Dave’s Free Plays, Monday 6/22/15
Opinions on the golf course notwithstanding, the US Open delivered a spine tingling finish on Sunday. Jordan Spieth is halfway to the Grand Slam with wins at Augusta and now Chambers Bay. He’s the youngest player ever, and by a big margin at that, to capture the Masters and the US Open in the same year.
What’s most amazing to me is the fact Spieth is only 21 years old. That’s not so much in terms of what he’s accomplishing on the golf course, although that’s obviously remarkable. I’m just floored by how mature he is for someone that age. His focus is incredible and while it’s supposed to be way too early to start talking about Spieth as a potential all-time great, that shoe might very well fit.
I’m not suggesting Jordan Spieth is about to go on a Tiger Woods run. Tiger was in a class by himself as he not only won everything in sight, he totally dominated the entire field. Spieth doesn’t do any one thing that is jaw dropping. But he does everything well, he’s about as grounded an individual as you’re likely to come across, and he sure knows how to win.
Next up as far as the majors go is the British Open and it’s at the one and only Old Course at St. Andrew’s. I don’t think one needs to be a golf fan to be looking forward to watching.
Quick rant. Lenny Harris is the third-base coach for the Miami Marlins. He’s new to the job, taking over at the same time as Mike Redmond was pink slipped as manager and Dan Jennings moved from the front office to the dugout. So maybe I need to cut Harris some slack. Or then again, maybe not.
2-2 game, still very early, Marlins get a leadoff single from Dee Gordon and Derek Dietrich than rifles one to the wall in left field. Great spot for the Marlins, second and third, none out, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton coming up next.
Wait a minute, hold on. Harris inexplicably gave the go sign to Gordon as approached third base on the Dietrich hit. A few seconds later, Gordon is out at home plate and now it’s a runner on second and one out. Predictably, the Marlins got nothing out of this rally, and in fact, never scored again en route to a 5-2 loss to the Reds.
This was horrific coaching in every respect. It’s pretty simple, really. You just don’t send the runner home in this spot unless he’s going to score standing up. I was literally flabbergasted as this was unfolding, I really couldn’t believe my eyes. It was patently clear that Gordon, fast as he is, was the underdog in this contest and the result was totally unsurprising.
The Harris decision might well have cost the Marlins a win. Miami had Reds starter Michael Lorenzen on the ropes and had a shot to knock him out of the game. Instead, the terrible gamble by Harris killed a rally, Lorenzen settled down and the Reds eventually got to David Phelps and won the game.
Look, we all make bad decisions from time to time. But this one was on something so basic Harris has to be called on the carpet. He simply has to know the situation and risk vs. reward.
I went 2-2 on Sunday, and was pretty happy to get the split as I was on the right side of a 1-0 Indians win. Cleveland didn’t even get a baserunner till the sixth inning, and that generally means a loss. Fortunately, rookie Cody Anderson did a tremendous job in his debut and the Tribe was able to plate the walk off winner on a very close play at home plate as the throw from center field short hopped the catcher.
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21-4 on the last 25 daily free play with the Sunday Cleveland winner. Tonight’s schedule is a short one, and there don’t appear to be many good options from my vantage point. But I’ll try to get the winner on a battle of lefties in Anaheim.
ASTROS (Oberholtzer) @ ANGELS (Santiago)
Take: ANGELS -125 (Don Best Consensus Line at publication time)
I think it’s safe to say the Astros are well ahead of schedule. There was no doubt this organization was headed in the right direction as the 2015 season got started. But most observers, myself included, figured that meant the Astros might have a chance to get close to .500. If you saw this team rolling to a first place standing nearly halfway through the campaign, my hat is off to you.
The Angels are somewhat of a disappointment. They’re hardly out of it at 35-35, but this team is well off the pace to reach their projected win total and they really haven’t had the look of a likely playoff team. Mike Trout has been terrific to be sure, and the renaissance of Albert Pujols has been fun to watch. But the team has never really looked like a dynamo, and there have been issues all season in the front office. I won’t say there’s no joy in Anaheimville, but it clearly hasn’t been a great first half.
As for tonight, I think it’s game the Halos ought to win. Brett Oberholtzer is a very hittable lefty and the Houston bullpen had to log a load of innings on Sunday as starter Victor Velasquez got yanked in the fourth inning. The Astros are hitting lots of homer right now, but their weakest numbers have come on the road against lefties, and that’s what they’ll see tonight.
Hector Santiago has been more than expected for the Angels. That’s not to suggest he’s anything resembling an ace, but Santiago has given the Angels some decent outings, and he’s generating an impressive K/IP ratio. That should serve him well against a team that swings and misses at a substantial rate, which the Astros have done.
I’m giving Santiago a slight edge over Oberholtzer on the mound, but I feel the bigger advantage might come late. The Astros bullpen isn’t depleted by amy means as none of the Sunday guys had to throw an inordinate number of pitches. But my take is that if the Halos can get to the eighth inning tied or ahead, they’re the favorites with a fresh Joe Smith and Huston Street.
I wouldn’t call this a no brainer by any means. I made this Angels a little bigger chalk piece than here the line currently resides, but it’s definitely not what I’d call a strong stance. But on a Monday evening where there are few games to choose from, I think the Angels are worth a look at the current number.
FanDuel Value Play, Monday 6/22
TORII HUNTER, OF, $2600
Torii Hunter’s best days are behind him. But the Twins vet might have a chance to have a breakout night here. He’s facing John Danks, a very hittable lefty, and Hunter has enjoyed some success against Danks over the years.
This is a price is right call, as Hunter costs only $2600 tonight. It’s a schedule that would seem to demand spending a substantial amount on one of two or three at the most high end starting pitchers, so the idea is to save elsewhere and hope to garner some points on the cheap. I’ll take Hunter as an option to get that job done tonight.