MLB Notebook and Hot College Caoches
Okay, so nobody in Minnesota or Houston press that panic button ... yet!
The Minnesota Twins (58-36) and the Houston Astros (59-37) once upon a time sported very comfy leads in the American League Central and AL West, respectively, but times they are a'changin.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins were beaten 14-4 by the New York Mets and it marked the first time this season that Minny had lost three consecutive games. Folks, the Mets' TV announcing team of Gary Cohen and Ron Darling had let us know that no team in Major-League Baseball had gone this deep into a season (see 90+ games) without losing three in a row since the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers.
From a wagering standpoint, the Twins' back-to-back-to-back losses at Cleveland (- 145) on Sunday afternoon and then at home to the Mets - note the Twins were favored (- 166) in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss and then even bigger favs on Wednesday (- 178) - chipped away from Minnesota's overall profits this year that still stands at $+ 1403 but you've got to wonder if Minny's shaky defense, lack of timely hitting and bullpen failures are gonna rear its ugly head and make the Twinkies a "bet-against" squad more often than not these final 60-plus games. How about LF Eddie Rosario dropping a routine fly ball that really opened up the floodgates as the Mets scored 12 runs in the game's final three innings on Wednesday afternoon?
As far as the Astros are concerned, they entered Wednesday night's tilt in Anaheim against the surging Angels and here's the lowdown: Houston needed to win the back two games in Texas to earn a post-All Star Game break split of that four-game set and then A.J. Hinch's crew lost 9-6 and 7-2 in the first two games of this ongoing four-game series in Orange County. The Astros have gone from plus to minus dollars in a season-long quest to win moolah - the 'Stros entered Wednesday's game at $- 147 - and there's some serious chinks in the armor lately. Is it perhaps karma for what they did against Angels' C Jonathan Lucroy?
In other MLB News & Notes ...
The Milwaukee Brewers are counting on a shot-in-the-arm, if you will, when LHP Gio Gonzalez will start Saturday against Arizona. Gonzalez - who suffered from recent arm fatigue while attempting this comeback to the bigs - gave the Brewers some big innings in the second half of last year and now will look to resurrect his career after a failed comeback attempt with the New York Yankees' system this past spring. One thing about this Milwaukee staff is it ranks a respectable 15th in the bigs in team ERA (4.62) but the starters have produced only 24 "quality starts" in all and only the above-mentioned Angels (with 14) and the Baltimore Orioles (with 23) have fewer quality starts in baseball this year ...
Finally, don't look now but Chicago Cubs' closer RHP Craig Kimbrel just cranked out his fourth save in five opportunities with Wednesday's 5-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds (+ 120). Kimbrel worked a 1-2-3 ninth for a Cubs club that's now won seven of its last 10 games. Kimbrel could be the post-season's freshest big-name arm a couple of months down the line but right now he's still working off the rust as his stat line for this albeit brief-for-him season reads 5.2 innings pitched, 7 Ks to 4 BBs and a bloated 7.94 ERA. In other words, if you're the opponent, you better get the Cubs now before Kimbrel works his way into mid-season form.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Let's continue our week-long look at the College Football world - today we check out the positive / profitable results from some of the sport's head coaches on the job four-or-fewer campaigns:
KIRBY SMART, Georgia - The SEC media sessions this week weren't all about Alabama Crimson Tide chit-chat as Smart's Bulldogs remain a super-power and the favorite to snag the SEC East. And you better believe Smart's successes on the field - that's a 29-12 SU (straight-up) mark in his first three seasons in Athens - also have translated to ATS (against the spread) success as Georgia is 25-14 odds-wise (a .641 winning rate) since he came aboard prior to the start of the 2016 season. Note that the former 'Bama defensive coordinator under Nick Saban has cranked out a 17-10 spread record in conference games while going 8-4 ATS versus non-SEC foes.
MATT CAMPBELL, Iowa State - One of college football's best / brightest young coaches may someday (and soon) be headed to the National Football League but after three seasons in Ames the always-young looking Campbell has been a major money-maker for his backers. Iowa State's registered 7-4, 10-2 and 7-6 ATS from 2016-thru-2018 for a collective spread mark of 24-12 (a .667 winning percentage) and take note that Campbell's clubs are an electric 18-7 ATS as underdogs these past three seasons and the Cyclones are a terrific 19-8 against the odds when playing fellow Big 12 foes. Va-va-voom!
BILL CLARK, UAB - Don't look now but the born-again UAB football program (remember they were shut down for the 2015-16 seasons) has become one of the great stories in the college football universe ... and you can thank the 51-year-old head Blazers' head coach for that! Clark's club has strung together back-to-back bowl seasons - last year's 37-13 blowout of 1-point underdog Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl catapulted UAB to an 11-3 SU / 10-4 ATS campaign in '18 and overall Clark's teams are 24-12-1 vig-wise in his three years on the job (that's the 2014 season, then 2017-18). One final stat: UAB's covered 13 of its 20 games when in the dog role these past three seasons.