Two of the top teams starting off the Major League Baseball season head into battle today, as the Texas Rangers (13-3, 5-2 home) get set to take on the New York Yankees (9-6, 5-3 away) for Game 1 of a three-game series with the first pitch being thrown out at 7:00 PM ET time from the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. With a great pitching duel set up between the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.59 ERA) and the Rangers’ Derek Holland (2-0, 3.10 ERA), there’s little doubt that on a day with a shortened MLB schedule, this match-up will be one of the top options for online sports betting at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here.
These two teams enter tonight’s match-up as the league’s top two hitting clubs, with the Yankees generating 27 homers so far and the Rangers bashing 26 of their own to lead them to the best record in the Major Leagues so far this season. What has put the Rangers clearly ahead so far this season has been their bats, which also lead the Majors across just about every other statistical line starting with a team batting average of .303, which is nearly 20 points higher than the second place New York Yankees. Add in a league-leading 92 RBIs (New York is again second with 88), slugging percentage (.498), total runs (94) and hits (174), and it’s plainly evident just as to why Texas has been so successful to start the 2012 campaign. That is however discounting the Rangers impressive pitching rotation, which appears to have not lost much of a step even with the departure of C.J. Wilson, who was lost in free agency during the offseason to AL West rivals the Los Angeles Angels. Texas sits 3rd in the league in ERA with an impressive 2.48 number, and 3rd in walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) at a measly 1.06, showing that they are doing well at limiting runners on the base paths as well as avoiding giving free passes (issuing just 35 walks, T-2nd in the majors). At home tonight, the Rangers may also look to clearly have the upper hand in an otherwise very well balanced match-up against the Yankees, as starting pitcher Derek Holland has quickly grabbed the reigns as one of the top options in the Texas rotation, pitching 3 straight quality starts without allowing more than 3 runs per game. However, he’ll have to overcome a huge hurdle tonight against a Yankees’ batting order that has punished him in recent years, beating him twice last season in two starts while pushing his ERA in three meetings to 8.62 while hitting north of .300 against him (he’s also 0-4 lifetime with a 8.78 ERA against New York in 5 starts). If Holland wants to show that he’s turned a page in his short pitching career, this game against a team that has historically owned him is the first place to start.
In opposition to the Texas Rangers tonight, the Yankees will put up their ace in the rotation, fellow left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who will try to calm back down to typical form after a lackluster start to the 2012 campaign. Posting a 1-0 record with a ballooning 5.59 ERA, Sabathia has at least shown better form in each successive game, allowing 5 runs in his first outing, 4 in the second, and just 3 in an 8-3 victory against Minnesota. His control is improving, with walks falling in each game pitched as well, so there’s good signs for the Yankees that their ace will be on point in tonight’s match-up, especially with an extra day of rest under his belt (after the rained-out Game 3 with the Boston Red Sox yesterday). For New York however, with a good pitching duel set up, the key to tonight’s game will be getting the bats going early and often against Derek Holland, in order to shut down his confidence from the get-go. New York’s confidence has to be improving after beating Boston in two straight games, including Saturday’s epic comeback from a 9-0 deficit, and getting big nights from guys like Mark Teixeira, who is 7-for-15 lifetime against Holland and 11-for-27 in his last 6 games, will be essential to nab a road win in the first game of this 3-game set with Texas. Curtis Granderson has also been a monster against Texas, hitting .438 with six homers against the Rangers last year, and Robinson could also use a boost to get back to his normal production levels (hitting .333 lifetime against Holland), as the former home-run derby champ is hitting just .242 to start the season with just 1 home run and 3 RBIs. A break-out series for him could certainly help the Yankees to stay hot heading into tonight’s showdown, as they’ll likely need it considering the power section the Rangers also possess this year.
The Rangers get their offensive kicks courtesy of a flock of big-time hitters, including Josh Hamilton, who leads the AL with 7 homers to go with his .418 batting average, and Michael Young, who has jumped out of the gates with a .414 batting average by virtue of a 10-game hitting streak. There are six hitters in the Rangers line-up that are currently over .300 at the plate, with 5 players already over 10 RBIs through just 16 games, so it’s evident that run production will be a big key to Texas’ success in this series with an equally hard-hitting Yankees line-up. Though they’ll be without slugger Adrian Beltre tonight, who will sit once again with a strained hamstring, there are a number of players, including Michael Young (hitting .326 against Sabathia lifetime) who could help fill the void left by Beltre’s absence. Getting Nelson Cruz out of the starting blocks would be a welcoming sign, as Cruz is hitting just .250 with 2 homers and 10 RBIs (0-for-11 lifetime against Sabathia, 7 Ks), and finding a way to get more production from Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli (.158 and .286 hitters against C.C. respectively) could also put the Rangers in a good position to grab Game 1 of this series from their AL East opponents. You can always expect the bats to come around in a series featuring two of the top hitting clubs in the Major Leagues, but it’ll be of paramount importance for each team to get on the board first and continue scoring, as no lead will be safe tonight.
Betting lines for the Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees at Oddsmaker Sportsbook
It’s a tight call on the betting lines at Oddsmaker today, as the Texas Rangers are a slight favorite with -108 odds straight up, while the Yankees come in not really as underdogs with -102 odds. Texas is 9-1 straight up in their last 10 games, while New York has won 3 straight to go 7-3 in their last 10 played.
Against the spread, the Rangers must cover -1.5 runs at +170 odds, while the Yankees get +1.5 runs of cushion for underdog pickers at -200 odds. The Yankees have been solid on the road so far this year, and have beaten the spread in their last two games, while Texas has failed to beat the spread in the last two games, but prevailed for ATS pickers in the previous 4 games.
The over/under should be an interesting wager, with both sides very powerful on offense, but both defenses ranked in the Top 10 in the league as New York allows 4.9 runs/game and Texas allows just 4.6. With the over/under sitting at 9.5 runs tonight, a much better performance from Derek Holland vs. the Yankees order will go a long way towards supporting the under wager, especially if C.C. Sabathia continues his positive trend of allowing fewer runs and walks in each game pitched. While New York’s bats are showing off with big nights recently, Texas’ defense has been more their key in recent games, so expect this to be a close, tough betting line to chase today.
Look out for an exciting duel tonight between two of the best teams in Major League Baseball, as two of the hottest-hitting line-ups stand toe-to-toe with each other for the first game in what should be a great 3-game series to come. Get those bets placed at the best online sportsbook at Oddsmaker today, and enjoy the best match-up the MLB has to offer on Monday.