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TOP NEWS
YANKEES TRY TO RETAKE AL EAST LEAD WEDNESDAY
Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:51 PM EDT

NEW YORK YANKEES (81-52)

at BOSTON RED SOX (82-52)

First pitch: Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. EDT
Line: Boston -160, New York +150, Total: 9

With tempers flaring in Tuesday night’s 5-2 Yankees victory, the Red Sox will look to keep the AL East lead and even the series at one game apiece with a win Wednesday night. Protecting their half-game division lead will be ace Josh Beckett, who has been dominant against the Yankees this season and is facing the inconsistent Phil Hughes. Baseball odds.

The core of the Red Sox lineup will need to get going early to give them a real chance in the game. Their three MVP candidates – Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia – went a combined 2-for-13 in the series opener, an unsustainable rate if they expect to generate any offense. Fortunately, they shouldn’t need a ton of run support with Beckett on the mound, who has excelled against the division rivals this season, going 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA. Hopefully for the righty, Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez remains sidelined with his thumb injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s game. Play on favored BOSTON to take this game.

The FoxSheets provide a rare five-star trend urging bettors to pick the Sox:

Play Against – All underdogs with a money line of +150 or more (NY YANKEES) – average hitting team (AVG = .265 to .279) against a good starting pitcher (ERA <=4.20) -AL, with an on base percentage of .350 or better over their last 20 games. (52-6 over the last 5 seasons.) (89.7%, +41.4 units. Rating = 5*). Baseball spreads.

A key story line Wednesday will be if either team takes any revenge shots after benches cleared Tuesday night. The Red Sox were not pleased with Francisco Cervelli’s showboating after his home run, hitting him in the back with a pitch later in the game.

Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA) has been up-and-down since coming back from the DL, and is now in one of those down patches. After throwing four consecutive quality starts while allowing two runs or fewer, he was shelled his last time out for six earned runs in 2.2 innings. He also has a 7.03 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in seven regular-season starts versus Boston.

Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA) has proven why he belongs with the elite in the AL this year, keeping his ERA well below the 3.00 mark. More importantly, he has shown he can excel against good teams this season.

In his last start, he gave up just one run against the Rangers and in 27 innings against the Yankees this season, he has given up just 16 hits and seven walks, while striking out 30. Baseball lines.


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