Short slate of baseball before football kicks off

 

If the Dallas Cowboys upsetting the New York Giants on Wednesday night has put you in the mood for a spot of betting, there’s no need to wait until Sunday afternoon’s NFL kickoff games. Ahead of Sunday’s 13-game schedule there’s plenty of sporting action to be had.

First up is a short slate of Major League Baseball games on Thursday night. While most teams are currently prepping for three-game sets this weekend, 10 teams will be in action tonight. Four of the five games are series closers, with three involving teams looking good to make the postseason. The other is a biggie.

Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves are looking to close out their series against Colorado with a win Thursday night.

Kicking things off, Tim Hudson (13-5, 3.76 ERA) and the Atlanta Braves (77-60, 39-32 home) host the Colorado Rockies (56-79, 26-38 road). The Rockies have been nothing to write home about this season and the focus here will be on the Braves trying to maintain 4 ½ game lead in the race for a Wild Card spot. Jhoulys Chachin (2-4, 4.85 ERA) will go for the Rockies so Hudson is the favorite in this one. Despite Colorado having taken one of three from the Braves this week bet on the Braves at +110 to cover the spread.

Atlanta’s NL East rivals Washington will also be in action tonight. The Nationals (84-52, 42-25 home) host Chicago (51-85, 17-51 road). Leave it to the lowly Cubbies to help the Nationals out of a mini-slump. The Nats have taken three in a row against Chicago this week after struggling over the past two weeks, and with Jordan Zimmerman (9-8, 3.01 ERA) looking to make-up for a poor outing Saturday, it’s hard to see past Washington on Thursday. Oddsmakers agree. The Nationals enter the game as -1.5 favorites at -120 odds.

Elsewhere in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers (67-69, 26-41 road) finish off a four-game series at Miami (60-77, 31-37). You’d have to be a diehard fan to watch this one, but some in-play action could be interesting for bettors. For the record, the Marlins are favored despite Milwaukee having taken two of three this week.

Over in the American League, AL West-leaders Texas (81-55, 38-30 road) has one game left in Kansas City (61-75, 31-37 home). Unsurprisingly, the Rangers enter the game as favorite (-1.5 at +115 odds) but Kansas snatched a victory on Tuesday and Rangers starter Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.01 ERA) is ripe for the pickings. Take the Royals for the upset here.

Rookie David Phelps will take the mound for the Yankees' opener in Baltimore on Thursday night.

The biggest game on tap Thursday night will be the New York Yankees (77-59, 36-31 road) travelling to Baltimore (76-60, 37-30 home) for the first of four. New York managed to edge one game ahead in the AL East after defeating Tampa Bay on Wednesday, while Baltimore fell to Toronto. This weekend’s series will be even bigger than last weekend’s showdown in the Bronx.

Thursday’s matchup see David Phelps (3-4, 3.13 ERA) go for the Yankees against Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.54). Phelps is spelling the injured Andy Pettitte. The rookie has impressed this season, maintaining a respectable ERA under the big lights of New York. Hobbled by injuries, the Yanks welcomed back Alex Rodriguez this week and despite Mark Teixeira still being on the DL, on Wednesday night the Bombers looked like they might be ready to turn a corner. Baltimore head into this one as underdogs and could be worth a stake, but this one smells like a statement game for the Yankees. Expect Derek Jeter to lead by example.

After all of that, if you still fancy an NFL warm up, College Football is back Thursday night with Pittsburgh (0-1) traveling to Cincinnati (0-0) in a Big East showdown. The Bearcats are narrow favorites (-4 ½ at -115) in what will be the team’s season opener.

Utah (1-0) travels to Utah State (1-0) on Friday night before a full slate of college games takes center stage on Saturday while the race for the MLB postseason continues across the weekend, including what could be Stephen Strasburg’s last outing of the year (Vs. Miami, Friday 7:05 PM ET).

Then, of course, NFL Week 1 kicks off proper on Sunday, with the pick of the bunch looking to be San Francisco at Green Bay and Pittsburgh at Denver. Oddsmakers like both home teams here, but Pittsburgh could well get after Peyton Manning and the Broncos for the [narrow] upset.

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