In what is likely to be the most-watched and wagered on set of games in the 2011 MLB Baseball American League Divisional Series, the first game of the postseason between the AL East Champion New York Yankees (97-65) and the AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers (95-67) is sure to bring plenty of excitement to baseball and online sports betting fans alike, as a pitching match-up of epic proportions marks the start of this 5-game series set to begin at Yankee Stadium. Add to the mix two of the most potent offensive line-ups in all of Major League Baseball, and we’ve got the making for a classic series between two historic teams that is certain to be worth wagering on at one of the best online sports betting sites reviewed right here.
Tonight’s opening pitching match-up pairs Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA) against C.C. Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA) in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the American League, if not all of baseball. Verlander on one hand has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, coming in as a favorite to win the AL Cy Young award without much question, but has not had success in the win column against New York this season, sporting a 0-0 record through two starts with 6 runs allowed in 12 innings of work. Otherwise, Verlander has been simply outstanding; going undefeated in 4 out of the last 5 months of play (22-2 since May 7th), holding opponents to a sub-.200 batting average over the year and being equally good on the road as at home (10-3, 2.37 ERA home, 14-2, 2.43 ERA away), there is no question that the Tigers ace will be up to the challenge today.
C.C. Sabathia on the other hand has been much less dominant towards the end of the year, holding just a 4-3 record through August and September combined. The most shocking figure that could be of interest in this match-up with the Tigers is the huge batting numbers he’s allowed in those two months, allowing a .331 average in August, and a .291 average in September. In the two games against Detroit’s powerful lineup this season, Sabathia was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA allowing 6 earned runs in 13 innings pitched. Oddly similar to Verlander’s figures against New York, it will be interesting to see which pitcher, if any, steps up and has a dominant showing for Game 1 tonight.
Betting Lines for New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
Bodog.eu Sportsbook sets tonight’s lines for the game in favor of the Yankees at home, giving the Bronx Bombers -125 odds on the money line while Detroit comes in as a slight +115 underdog. With two aces on the mound in this match-up, even with two Top 5 offenses the over/under stands at 7 runs, as the bookmakers are expecting one pitcher or the other (or both) to pitch well and contain the big bats in both the Tigers and Yankees lineups. Looking at the run line, the Yankees give up 1.5 runs at a +165 price, while Detroit takes 1.5 runs at -195 price.
Our Pick to Win
There’s no question that the New York Yankees at home are scary, especially when the bats get going. However, with Justin Verlander on the mound, I like Detroit in Game 1, considering that C.C. Sabathia will have a tough time with AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera, DH Victor Martinez, Catcher Alex Avila and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who in combination have a collective .317 batting average on the season. No doubt the Yankees have power and more as well, with Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira in their lineup, but these being mostly big swingers vs. Detroit’s more small-ball oriented line-up, Detroit should have a slight advantage for Game 1 with Sabathia struggling to keep base runners off the base paths. Detroit wins on the road tonight 5-2 to take the early series lead.
Players to Watch, New York:
Alex Rodriguez, 3B – One of the bigger question marks for the Yankee’s lineup, coming in with knee soreness and plagued with injuries all season, A-Rod is the one who needs to improve and contribute the most for the Yankees to have success in this postseason. Playing in just 26 games since hitting the DL in July with a .212 average (also sporting a .222 average against Verlander), keep your eyes on whether A-Rod will factor into this series, or whether he becomes the guy to pitch to after walking Robinson Cano.
The Power Section of Teixeira (1B), Cano (2B and Granderson (CF) – I have to lump these guys in together, because of a striking number that stands out for these three plus A-Rod. The number is .178. That number is their combined batting average lifetime against Justin Verlander. Add in the fact that the 4-some together has just 3 homers and 8 RBIs lifetime against Verlander, and you can see where this match-up, and either the production or lack thereof from the Yankees power core, will likely determine the game’s outcome one way or another.
Players to Watch, Detroit:
Miguel Cabrera, 1B – The .344 average with 30 homers and 105 RBIs on the year speaks plainly enough to this guys’ ability. The 9-for-16 (.563 average) with 2 homers and 11 RBIs against Sabathia confirms this guy is a force to be reckoned with in this match-up tonight, and in the series to come.
Jhonny Peralta, SS – On the flipside, Peralta is the one who needs the most improvement against Sabathia, as he’s gone just 1-for-17 lifetime against the Yankee’s ace. With his production mostly based in the first half of the season, it’ll be crucial for Detroit to have Peralta contributing in this series, and get started with a good performance and a confidence boost against a pitcher who has given him lots of grief.