NYY(Philip Hughes) vs. Boston Red Sox (Josh Beckett) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

New York Yankees (19-8) Philip Hughes, at Boston Red Sox (14-14)
Josh Beckett, Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., 7:10 PM EST, Friday, May
7th, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Yankees -105/Red Sox -105
Total: 9

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Its been 30 days since the East Coast media and one four-letter word
network shoved the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry down
baseballs collective throats, so get ready because this weekend it
starts again with an opening night pitchers matchup of right-handers
when Philip Hughes and Josh Beckett tangle at Fenway Park Friday night.

And even though the coverage can get over the top quickly, Major
League Baseballs marquee three-game series this weekend should be a
great one because both teams are playing their best baseball of the
season right now.

The Red Sox were on the verge of falling double-digit games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East standings at the start
of the week when they responded in a big way by sweeping a four-game
series over the Los Angeles Angels. Boston absolutely murdered the
ball in all four games, scoring 36 runs and pounding out 53 hits in
the series that finished with yesterdays 11-run, 11-hit slugfest in
their 11-6 victory.

But the Yankees have plenty of momentum in their dugout too, coming into the rivalry series with the Sox as winners of seven of their
last eight games and fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore
Orioles. New Yorks recipe for success during their winning stretch
has been pitching, having allowed an average of just 2.4 runs per
game in the wins.

Pitching will kick off the series tonight too, as oddsmakers
originally released the betting line overnight with Beckett and the
Red Sox as slim -115 favorites on the moneyline on reputation alone.
It only took a few hours of early steam at the window to turn this
game into a pick-em though, as most offshore sportsbooks are listing
both teams at -110.

If you bet at a sportsbook that offers dimelines or reduced juice (if you bet baseball and you dont, why?) you can find both teams at -105.

The over/under total is listed at 9 at a large majority of the
sportsbooks on the Web, but Sportsbook and the Las Vegas Hilton are
the only two houses listing the total at 9.5 with larger odds on the

Theres something to be said about the fact that the once best-
pitcher-in-the-game Beckett isnt even the favorite in a head-to-head
duel against the youngster Hughes tonight. Mainly because Hughes has
pitched great so far in 2010, and Beckett has had his tits lit up at
an alarming rate.

Hughes is a perfect 3-0 on the season and all four of his starts have been quality ones where hes allowed only two runs or less. The Yanks
No. 5 starter has splits that are some of the best on the staff (10
H, 4 R in 25 IP), including a sub-1.0 WHIP (0.88) and a rock-solid .
234 on-base percentage against the opposition.

But the pressure cooker of Fenway for the Yanks-Sox series could make
the young righty revert back to his pre-2010 form, which for the
Yankees in his career versus the Red Sox is U-G-L-Y (0-2 in 2 GS,
7.62 ERA, 1.923 WHIP, .397 OBP, .925 OPS). Hughes was eaten up by
David Ortiz (2-for-2, 2 2B, 2 BB) and Mike Lowell (2-for-5, HR) in
those prior two starts, so hell have to avoid the damage by those
two in the early innings.

Beckett on the other hand has only three quality starts in his six outings this year, mainly due to the fact that hes not making
hitters miss as much anymore (1.57 WHIP, .367 OBP (.346 OBP at
Fenway)). He even had back-to-back games at the end of April where he
was completely lost (16 H, 8 BB, 15 R in 10 IP) and both Texas and
Toronto took batting practice off of him.

He was much better his last time out (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB) against
the Orioles, but he was a hard-luck loser to Kevin Millwood that day.
Plus, the Red Sox still seem to win when hes on the mound, going 4-2
this year and 8-3 in Becketts last 11 starts against the Yankees
overall despite getting knocked around a little by the Yanks offense
(5.51 ERA, .346 OBP, .804 OPS).

The key hitter to watch tonight to see if Beckett is on his game will
be Robinson Cano, as Cano has three homeruns and a batting average
over .315 against Beckett in his career. Alex Rodriguez and Derek
Jeter also have multiple jacks on the righty too.

For those of you that dont work at ESPN, or follow one of these
teams religiously, you might not remember that the Yankees came back
to win the final two games of the Opening Night series to win the
series 2-1. The Yanks only went 2-7 at Fenway last year.

Two of the three games played over the total in early April, the over
is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head games at Fenway, and its also
7-3 in Becketts last 10 home starts versus the Yankees, so the over
is a strong betting trend play tonight as well.

Badgers Pick: As a pick-em, Im having a hard time finding value on
a side in this game. Beckett is not Beckett and against the Yankees
order he will give up runs. Hughes is where I lean, but the youngster
in the bright-lights of the Yanks-Sox rivalry makes me worry. If I
wager on this game, Ill play the over of 9 expecting a typical
Yankees-Red Sox slugfest.