New York Yankees vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview and Pick – Mussina vs. Maholm

New York Yankees (49-42) Mike Mussina -140, 9 O/U at Pittsburgh
Pirates (42-48) Paul Maholm +120, 9 O/U, PNC Park, 7:05 PM EST,

by Badger of

Thanks to a rainout back on June 26th, we all get to enjoy a rare
Thursday night interleague game between the New York Yankees and the
Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park.

The game, originally supposed to be a rubber match game back in the original series, now takes on more drama as the Yankees attempt to
continue to ride a wave of momentum into the All-Star break. The
Bronx Bombers will send veteran righty Mike Mussina (11-6, 3.64) out
to the hill to try and keep it going, as the Pirate counter with
lefty Paul Maholm (5-5, 4.05).

Baseball oddsmakers opened the game with the Yankees as -140
favorites on the moneyline, with Pitt as +120 underdogs. A few
offshore sportsbooks have already moved the line down to the -135/
+115 range, so expect more movement once the money starts to roll in
today. The over/under opened at 9.

The Yankees are fresh off a 10-inning win over first-place Tampa Bay yesterday, 2-1, a win that gave them a two-game sweep of the series.
Combined with two wins to savage a split of the previous Boston
series, the Yankees are now on a four-game winning streak and
starting to get their swagger back.

Pittsburgh is on a hot streak too, kind of, as far as Pirate hot
streaks go. The Pirates missed a rare chance at a three-game series
sweep when they lost to Houston yesterday, 6-4, and are 4-4 in their
last eight games played. Like I said, as far as Pittsburgh goes that
is nice baseball.

Mussina is having a redemption season so far, pitching far beyond
expectations with an 11-6 record and a sub-4 ERA. Mussina is giving
the Yankees exactly what they need out of him, innings, as he has
gone at least six innings in each of his last seven starts.

He will also be trying to get his 12th win before the break for the first time since his 12-3 back in 2002, so expect Moose to motivated
to continue his strong season. Back in 2005 he held the Pirates to
five hits in a 9-0 win in his only previous appearance versus them, a
small sample I know, but he pitched six scoreless innings last time
out versus Boston so he seems to be in a zone right now.

The Pirates have to like their chances tonight though because of the way Maholm is throwing the ball right now. Maholm has been lights out
in June and July, going 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his last seven starts.
Last time out he held Milwaukee to just one run (a 2-1 loss) in eight
innings of a no decision, his fifth no decision since May 25th. Plus,
the Pirates are 10-2 in Maholms last 12 home starts.

Both teams can put runs on the board in bunches (Pitt 4.87 per game NY 4.66) and PNC Park is considered a hitter-friendly ballyard (9th
in MLB with .754 OPS, 9.11 runs per game), so you may feel tempted to
take a shot at the over. Also, Pittsburgh has gone over the total in
eight of their last 11 interleague games, while the Yankees have come
in under the total in nine of their last 12 overall.

The Yankees have pretty much dominated the Pirates as well, winning seven of the eight games played so far.

Badgers Pick: I like the Yankees, but Id wait to see if the line drops into the -125 range before I would wager on it. Maholm is
dealing right now too, so Im playing my cards right now on the
under. Mussina and Maholm duel tonight, take the under of 9.