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The biggest names at the WTA Istanbul Cup have been dropping like flies. Top seed Venus Williams drew a difficult first-round match against qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko (+475), who won in straight sets on Tuesday to leave the tournament up for grabs. It was the first victory for Bondarenko over a Top-20 ranked player since she re-joined the WTA Tour last year.
Williams was the 3/1 favorite going into Tuesday’s action, followed closely by former World’s No. 1 Jelena Jankovic at 4/1. But Jankovic also lost her first-round match to Urszula Radwanska (+290). That left a peloton of five players who were each priced at 12/1. Two of those women faced each other, with Camila Giorgi downing Dominika Cibulkova (EVEN) in a close contest.
Alize Cornet and Tsvetana Pironkova did manage to advance to the second round. Roberta Vinci was the other member of that fivesome at 12/1; she defeated Alexandra Panova (+240) on Wednesday. Cornet is the highest seed remaining in this tournament at No. 4. The French native is currently ranked No. 28 in the world, but was as high as No. 11 back in 2009, and recently made it to the fourth round at the French Open.
It’s been nearly eight months since the Oakland Athletics traded their best player, third baseman Josh Donaldson, to the Toronto Blue Jays. This Wednesday, they’ll meet for the second time since that fateful transaction, with Felix Doubront scheduled to start for the Jays (47-47, –4.23 units) against Sonny Gray and the A’s (43-51, –16.85 units). First pitch from the Coliseum is at 10:05 PM ET.
Doubront (4.27 FIP lifetime) will be making just his third start in a Jays uniform. Shoulder trouble derailed what had been a promising career in Boston, where Doubront had a solid 2013 campaign (3.78 FIP) for the Red Sox. Toronto got mixed results in Doubront’s first two starts, a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox (+114 at home) and an 11-10 loss to the Kansas City Royals (–118 at home).
Gray (2.84 FIP) has pitched very well for Oakland this year. However, his A’s teammates have played poorly enough to lose 0.41 betting units in Gray’s 19 starts, despite going 11-8. While much has been said about Oakland’s +53 run differential on the season, Gray has benefited from an unusually low .255 BABIP against, with a career-high 78.0% of base runners left stranded.
Other games this wednesday
The Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals have the best records in baseball, so it’s no surprise that they are favored to win each respective pennant and meet in the World Series. Bovada currently has the Royals at 13/2 to win the Fall Classic. The Cards are 8/1.
The Cardinals have cooled off of late as they were 51-24 through their first 75 games. However, they won just seven of their 17 games since and have been somewhat of a middling team. Nonetheless, as we move towards the end of July, the Cards still have the best team ERA in baseball (2.66).
As for the Royals, they can almost put it in cruise control as they have a comfortable 5.5-game lead in the American League Central. Only the Minnesota Twins, the team that is currently second in the division, has a record above .500. Everyone else will likely be sellers at the trade deadline. The Royals’ +64 run differential is the second-best number in the AL, and they’ll be ready for another deep playoff run after last year’s journey to the World Series.
Behind the Royals and Cardinals are the Washington Nationals (8/1), Los Angeles Dodgers (17/2) and Pittsburgh Pirates (10/1).
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Much better things were expected this year from the Seattle Mariners than the New York Yankees. But going into the second half of the season, it’s the Yankees (48-40, +0.62 betting units) leading the AL East, while the Mariners (41-48, –13.10 units) are slowly sinking in the AL West. They’ll crack open a three-game set Friday night at New Yankee Stadium; first pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.
Masahiro Tanaka (3.60 FIP) gets the nod for the Yankees as they begin the second half at the top of their rotation. Tanaka isn’t as dominant as he was before hurting his elbow last year, but New York is still 8-3 in his 11 starts for 3.94 units in earnings. The Yankees are also hitting well at 14.6 WAR.
Seattle responds with Mike Montgomery (3.66 FIP), who has cooled off a bit since pitching back-to-back complete-game shutouts in late June. Montgomery failed to reach the sixth inning in either of his last two starts, leaving Seattle 0.20 units in the red on a team record of 4-4. The M’s are once again near the bottom of the majors in hitting at 9.0 WAR.
In 2011, HBO unleashed its TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, naming it after the first novel in the series: Game of Thrones. It was a big smash with both viewers and critics, and next April, Season 6 will be hitting the small screen to a rapt audience waiting to find out what everyone wants to know: who dies next?
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According to the entertainment odds under the Film/Television Props category, Jorah Mormont is the favorite at 5/1. Mormont, played by Iain Glen, was last seen heading north with Daario Naharis (18/1) to go rescue their queen, Daenerys Targaryen (75/1). At present, Mormont is still alive in the ongoing book series, but Martin has previously stated that people will die on television who don’t die in the books.
The other top favorites to be terminated next are Ramsay Snow (now Bolton) at 7/1 and Alliser Thorne at 15/2. Bolton, portrayed by Iwan Rheon, is a violent bad guy who deserves his comeuppance, while Thorne (played by Owen Teale) recently led a mutiny against Jon Snow, who may or may not have been killed at the end of Season 5.
The 2015 Davis Cup has been narrowed down to the Elite Eight. Quarterfinal action in the World Group stage begins Friday. At press time, France is the narrow favorite to win the title at 11/4, ahead of Serbia (3/1), Canada (4/1) and Australia (5/1). France reached the finals last year before losing to Switzerland, who’s already been eliminated from this year’s competition.
The talented French team of Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut will face Great Britain (Andy Murray, James Ward, Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot) in the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club in London. The Brits are 8/1 to win their first Davis Cup since 1936; Andy Murray is the superstar of the group. Australia’s John Peers reached this year’s men’s doubles final at Wimbledon paired with Andy Murray’s brother, Jamie Murray.
Serbia’s road to glory goes through Buenos Aires, where Argentina (8/1) is lying in wait. This should be a fairly close matchup between Serbia (Viktor Troicki, Dusan Lajovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic) and the Argentines (Leonardo Mayer, Diego Schwartzman, Federico Delbonis and Carlos Berlocq). Tipsarevic, the former World’s No. 9, is struggling to rebuild his game after missing 17 months to a foot injury.
A pair of National League powerhouses will collide in the first series back after the All-Star Game, ushering the second half of the Major League Baseball betting season. With the lion’s share of the year in the rear view mirror, each team’s odds of winning the World Series comes more and more into view.
Both the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers are above .500 after the first 80-plus games of the regular season, but they’ll have to continue to show that they’re more than just collections of All-Star talent and celebrity. With 15/2 World Series odds in the futures market, the Nationals are slightly favored over their Dodger opponents (17/2).
So far throughout this 2015 campaign we’ve seen Bryce Harper establish himself as a superstar, but the franchise has little to show for his ascent so far. Harper’s 26 home runs and 61 RBI heading into the break have the 22-year-old outfielder’s name on the tips of everyone’s tongues, but any late season success will have to come from the team as a whole.
Expect the Dodgers, whose roster boasts All-Star Game starting pitcher Zach Greinke, to come out swinging in the second half of the season. With a 51-39 record straight up, they’ll face a lot of pressure going forward.
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It isn’t a slam-dunk yet, but it looks like we’re headed for another political battle between the Clintons and the Bushes. At press time, Hilary Clinton is the –700 favorite on the Political Props menu to win the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016, and Jeb Bush is ahead of the Republican pack at 3/2.
Naturally, anything can happen between now and next July when the two parties hold their national conventions; Clinton was originally favored to beat Barack Obama in 2008. But as it stands, there’s plenty of value to be had betting on Clinton, even at these chalky odds. She doesn’t face any serious opposition on the Democratic side. Bush seems like the obvious GOP choice, as well.
Looking past the nominations, the Democrats are currently listed at –170 to win the 2016 presidential election. However, you can also bet on Clinton specifically at even money, or on a woman to become president at –115. Since Carly Fiorina (66/1), Elizabeth Warren (75/1) and Kirsten Gillibrand (150/1) are the only other women on the odds list at press time, taking Clinton at 1/1 is where the value lies. Or you could bet on Donald Trump (33/1).
The depth of the American League East will be on full display this weekend as the New York Yankees hit the road to dispatch their fabled rivals. Although the Boston Red Sox are outside of the top four teams fighting for first place, it’s hard to find a more compelling option to wager on when betting on MLB.
With just 1.5 games separating the top team from the fourth-place team in the AL East, every matchup between AL East rivals is a must-see affair. Even Boston, only five games back of the top spot, can’t be ignored.
In the World Series futures market, the Yanks lead all AL East teams (16/1). The Sox, in contrast, sit farther down the line at 33/1. While a series victory in the set would no doubt improve New York’s standing in the win column, it could also serve as a necessary mental boost heading into the dog days of summer.
Equipped with a 44-38 record, New York has shown that they can handle high expectations. With a roster of trusted veterans and a rich history that speaks for itself, now could mark the perfect opportunity for the Yankees to start running away with the AL East Division. The first game is set for Friday at 7:10 PM ET at Fenway Park.
Clayton Kershaw may be the National League’s reigning MVP, but from a betting perspective, he’s about as bad as it gets. The Los Angeles Dodgers are just 8-9 in Kershaw’s starts this year, losing 9.89 betting units in the process. Only reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (–13.90 units) has done worse this year. Kershaw will try to improve his bottom line this Wednesday when the Philadelphia Phillies visit Chavez Ravine. First pitch is at 10:10 PM ET.
Kershaw (2.54 FIP) has been holding up his end of the bargain. However, he’s not quite as dominant as he was last year (1.81 FIP), and the Dodgers are only scoring 3.94 runs per game when he starts, down from their usual 4.16 runs per game. That, plus all the extra chalk Kershaw takes to the mound, explains his difficulties with red ink this year.
The Phillies don’t have to worry about chalk. They’re the worst team in the majors by far, and on Wednesday, they’re going to throw Adam Morgan to the wolves. This will be Morgan’s third big-league start; the Phillies split the first two behind their young southpaw, who allowed three runs in 12.2 innings.
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This Saturday is Independence Day, so it’s almost time for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, New York. Every year, the contestant who can scarf down the most hot dogs (bun included) in 10 minutes is declared the winner. American Joey Chestnut has won the contest every year since 2007, usually consuming at least 60 hot dogs along the way. Chestnut’s over/under this year is 65.5.
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If we exclude Chestnut’s 2007 victory, which had a 12-minute time limit, the Vallejo, California native has exceeded 65.5 hot dogs three times out of seven. His record is 69, set in 2013, and his lowest intake was in 2010, when Chestnut topped out at 54 franks. Last year, Chestnut won the contest with 61 hot dogs consumed.
Chestnut has reportedly been training vigorously for this year’s event, hoping to fend off the challenge from the latest eating star, Matt Stonie. That could be enough to push Chestnut beyond 65.5 hot dogs, but there’s also concern he could be near the end or even past his competitive eating peak at age 31. ESPN2 has the live coverage starting at noon Eastern.
A pair of underperforming but formidable opponents will collide in Michigan this weekend as the Detroit Tigers host the Toronto Blue Jays. More than just a battle of wills, the series is relevant to those anxious to capitalize on a trend that’s emerged in the Tigers’ recent track record.
In each of their past 10 games, the Tigers and their opponents have combined to plate more runs than the over/under suggests. That’s what happens when the pitching staff of one of the most prolific hitting teams in the league starts to struggle. In addition to Detroit’s 5.6 runs per game over the span, they’ve allowed an average of 6.5.
This weekend the Tigers will look to gain ground in the AL Central as the Blue Jays look to claw their way up the AL East. Both squads are capable of conference dominance, and both have the talent required for a successful season, yet both teams have coasted safely in the middle of the pack so far.
According to oddsmakers, both teams are decent long-term MLB betting options. The Tigers are 16/1 to win the World Series compared to Toronto’s 20/1.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the best team in Major League Baseball right now, and it’s not even close. The Cardinals went into Tuesday’s action with a 51-24 record, which is nine games up on the rest of the NL Central. On Wednesday, John Lackey (3.41 FIP) will take the mound for the Cards as they host Jose Quintana (3.58 FIP) and the Chicago White Sox. First pitch is at 8:15 PM ET.
Betting on St. Louis in every game would have generated 23.41 betting units in earnings, and that’s head-and-shoulders above anyone else. But Lackey is only responsible for 1.69 of those units. The Cardinals are 9-6 behind their nominal ace, giving him only 3.67 runs of support per game instead of their already-pedestrian average of 4.12 runs. The under is 10-5 for Lackey this year and 45-27-3 overall for St. Louis.
Chicago (32-42, minus-12.42 units, under 41-30-3) comes into this game having lost 12 of its past 16 games to land in the AL Central basement. Quintana is down 3.86 units on a team record of 6-9; the Sox have scored just 2.33 runs per game for their young lefty, with the under checking in at 11-4.
Summer blockbuster season has arrived, and this Friday, two more films will open to what should be some big box office numbers. Will they meet those lofty expectations? At press time, Ted 2 (Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane) is looking at an over/under of $60 million for its opening weekend gross, and meanwhile Max (Thomas Haden Church) has a total of $13 million on the entertainment props board.
Of the two films, Ted 2 will no doubt bring in more money, but reaching that total is unlikely – the under is priced accordingly at –140. The 2012 original grossed $54.4 million in its opening weekend, and beating those numbers will be difficult with Jurassic World and Inside Out already in theaters.
Max has a much better shot at beating its total; although in this case, the over is priced at –140. This is a PG-rated movie about a boy (Josh Wiggins) and his eponymous dog, who is adopted by the boy’s family after working with US Marines in Afghanistan. Max is perfectly positioned to grab a healthy slice of the marketplace as a family-friendly viewing option. Just don’t confuse it with Mad Max: Fury Road.
Could this be the year the Chicago Cubs finally win the big one? They may have to grab a Wild Card spot to do it, but at 14/1 this may the closest the Cubs (38-30, plus-5.20 units going into Tuesday’s action) have been over the past 107 years. They’ll host the Los Angeles Dodgers (39-32, minus-6.91 units) this Wednesday in what could be a preview of the 2015 National League playoffs. ESPN2 has the first pitch at 8:05 PM ET.
Kyle Hendricks (3.45 FIP) might be a sneaky value for the Cubs when he takes the mound Wednesday night. Hendricks is only up 0.93 units on a team record of 7-6, but he’s been saddled with a .317 BABIP, which suggests his opponents have had some good luck at the plate.
Speaking of luck, Mike Bolsinger (3.18 FIP) has pitched remarkably well for the Dodgers since getting called up from the minors, but he’s only earned 0.30 units on a team record of 5-4. Two of those losses were by one run in games where Bolsinger earned a no-decision. Otherwise, Bolsinger has dazzled hitters with his new slider, which has plenty of zip on it at 80 mph.
The Tampa Bay Rays had their issues earlier this year, but after winning 10 of their last 14 games, the Rays are on top of the revitalized AL East at 37-30, good enough for six betting units in earnings. Tampa Bay visits Cleveland (30-34, minus-11.20 units) this Friday night; first pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.
Nate Karns (4.15 FIP) continues to impress for the Rays in his first full year as an MLB starter. Karns is 1.06 units in the red on a team record of 6-7, but the towering righty has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts. Getting through more than five innings has been difficult, though, and Tampa Bay’s bullpen ranks No. 28 in the majors with a combined 4.28 FIP.
The Tribe will send sixth-year northpaw Carlos Carrasco (2.67 FIP) to the mound on Friday. Carrasco has pitched very well since making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery in mid-2013, and this year, the Venezuelan native is up 1.46 units on a team record of 8-5. Cleveland won four of Carrasco’s last five starts, and he’s gotten plenty of run support this year at 5.15 runs per game.