Tennis: Djokovic on Track as US Open Favorite


Tennis: Djokovic in Driver’s Seat for US Open

Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic from winning the 2015 US Open?

World’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic has only won the US Open once, back in 2011. But the World’s No. 1 is having a tremendous 2015 season. He’s the favorite to win this year’s Open, starting August 31 at Flushing Meadows. It’s a steep drop-off from there to Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He’s the top men’s tennis player in the world, so it’s only fitting that Novak Djovokic is favored to win the most prestigious hard-court tournament on the calendar.

Djokovic was knocked out of the 2014 US Open semifinals by Kei Nishikori , who in turn fell to Marin Cilic in the final. Djokovic only has the 2011 Open title under his belt. The World’s No. 1 tennis player is 48-3 in singles action this year, and 25-2 on the hard court.

Djokovic’s closest competitors are the usual suspects, Andy Murray , Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal with defending champion Marin Cilic as an outsider. None of those four has had much success against Djokovic recently; although Federer won their match at the Dubai final in February. That was one of three losses for Djokovic this year compared to his 48 victories.

Djokovic has won two of the three Grand Slam tournaments this year, giving him nine titles in his career. Winning at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, he only came up short at the French Open which is the only Grand Slam championship that has eluded him .


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MLB: Pirates-Cardinals in Quality Pitching Duel


MLB: Cardinals – Wacha vs. Pittsburgh – Cole in NL Central Battle

The St. Louis Cardinals 71-40 have the best record in baseball by far in the MLB standings. The second-best team in the National League, on both counts, happens to be the team chasing St. Louis down in the NL Central: the Pittsburgh Pirates 65-44. They begin a three-game set at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, and Game 2 will be shown Wednesday night  at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN.

Viewers will be treated to a very special pitching matchup. It’s a battle of Cy Young contenders this Wednesday night. The Cardinals plan on starting Michael Wacha (3.18 FIP) on a team record of 16-5. Pittsburgh will start Gerrit Cole (2.69 FIP), who’s pitched even better than Wacha; the Pirates are 16-6 behind their ace.

Expect a low-scoring affair when Michael Wacha (3.18 FIP) and the St. Louis Cardinals host Gerrit Cole (2.69 FIP) and the Pittsburgh Pirates this Wednesday night. Runs could be few and far between when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of an important three-game series. Scoring will be even harder to come by with Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (.830 OPS) on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad and uncertain to return before the playoffs.

Both pitchers find themselves in the top five on the MLB money list, with Wacha (16-5, +8.88 units) in second and Cole (16-6, +8.03 units) in fifth. The under may be the better choice at a combined 23-17-3 behind Wacha and Cole.

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Super Bowl XLII – Big Upset – Giants vs Patriots

Quarterback Eli Manning - New York Giants-Super Bowl XLII

Super Bowl XVII – New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks for a receiver as he drops back to pass against the New England Patriots. Super Bowl XLII was played at the University of Phoenix Stadium on February 3, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.

The game was a match up between the Giants and the undefeated Patriots in the regular Super Bowl finale. The Patriots, a team chasing a perfect season, were naturally favored to win. As a 12 point underdog a victory for the Giants would qualify as one of Super Bowl’s greatest upsets. The Giants came into the playoffs as a wild card team. The defensive line turned out to be a mismatch against the Patriots offense. The Giants shut down the Patriots solid running game and contained quarterback Tom Brady.

The final numbers on the Giants pass rush showed 5 sacks, 8 knockdowns, 5 hurries, and 2 batted passes. The Giants defensive front four rushed well and was able to get away with blitzing an abnormally low 26 percent. That enabled the Giants to roll coverage behind cornerback Corey Webster’s match up against Randy Moss.  That put a limit on Brady to one long completion of merely 19 yards.

In the fourth quarter,  wide receiver David Tyree’s astonishing catch was a one in a million with 1:15 left in the game. Facing extreme pressure, Eli Manning throws a rainbow to Tyree. He leaps and traps the ball against his helmet for a 32 yard gain. Four plays later, wide receiver Plaxico Burress then scored the winning touchdown on a 13-yard reception with 35 seconds remaining.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was named Super Bowl MVP.  He completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception .

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MLB: Bumgarner Aims to Bounce Back Against Braves


MLB: Bumgarner Looks to Turn It Around on the Road in Atlanta

Bumgarner will try to lift the San Francisco Giants with another sparkling road start against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Bumgarner (11-6, 3.39 ERA) settled down to pitch five scoreless innings Friday in Texas after giving up a combined six runs in his first two. That was enough to send the Giants and their left-hander to a 6-3 defeat.

Madison Bumgarner, last year’s World Series MVP went 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his prior three starts but is 2-3 with a 5.45 ERA in his last five on the road. Madison Bumgarner has been up and down on the road as of late, but the World Series MVP gets the call on Wednesday as the San Francisco Giants wrap up their three-game set in Atlanta, who will go with young Williams Perez on the hill.

Despite going at least five innings in his last five starts, Bumgarner has allowed six runs in two of those starts.  He is eighth in the National League in innings at 138. He is also third in wins (11) and seventh in strikeouts (139), but most of Bumgarner’s struggles come from road games. Even though he has a 6-4 away record, Bumgarner’s ERA on the road is 4.50 compared to 2.43 at home.

The Braves will counter with Williams Perez, who is 4-1 with an ERA of 4.14 on the season. However, the 24-year-old is also coming off a rough outing.  He got pummeled by the Phillies, giving up nine runs in just 4.1 innings of a road loss at Philadelphia. If he has a repeat performance of his Phillies match, the Braves will have to take a look at his place in the rotation.

Madison Bumgarner has had his problems on the road this year, but the San Francisco Giants will need the World Series MVP to give his best effort when they visit Atlanta on Wednesday to take on the Braves. The Giants need their ace to step up in this series finale as they try to track down the Dodgers in the National League West.

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Tennis: Murray Favored to Win Washington Open


Tennis Odds:  Murray Begins Summer Hard-Court Session in Washington DC

Andy Murray is the outright favorite to win this week’s stop on the ATP World Tour, the 2015 Washington Open – aka the Citi Cup. Andy Murray has won three ATP tournaments this year, but is still looking for his first hard-court title.

This year’s biggest winner is Andy Murray, who has Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic titles to his name. Other Grand Slam winners include Marin Cilic (2014 U.S. Open), and Lleyton Hewitt (2002 Wimbledon, 2001 U.S. Open) .

One Washington D.C. favorite is John Isner, the 6-foot-10-inch American who, after 11 hours spread over three days, won the longest match in tennis history against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010. There’s also Kei Nishikori, who made headlines at last year’s U.S. Open by becoming the first Asian-born man to make a Grand Slam final, before falling to Cilic.

Nishikori had a victory back in February at the Memphis Open; Cilic has just one hard-court match under his belt after missing nearly three months with a shoulder injury. That could all change this week in Washington. With the 2015 US Open less than a month away, World’s No. 3 Andy Murray enters this week’s Washington Open as the +135 favorite. No. 5 Kei Nishikori is next at +300, followed by reigning US Open champion and World’s No. 8 Marin Cilic (+800).

Murray, currently ranked No. 3 in the world in men’s singles, is making his first appearance in DC since 2006, when he lost to Arnaud Clément in the finals. He’ll use the Citi Cup as a launching pad for his run to the 2015 US Open, which starts August 31 at Flushing Meadows. Murray is 353-100 lifetime (77.9%) on hard courts and 21-5 this year.

World’s No. 5 Nishikori is making his return after having to pull out of Wimbledon with a leg injury. He’s also 21-5 on the hard court this year and will be playing Washington for the first time since 2007. Cilic, the reigning US Open champion, is ranked No. 8 and has played just one hard-court match this year.

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MLB: Slumping Washington Nationals Host Diamondbacks


MLB Odds: Diamondbacks-Nats in Key NL Series

Fresh off their latest roster upgrade, the Washington Nationals are in the midst of a four-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Game 3 this Wednesday (7:05 PM ET) at Nationals Park.  Is it too late in the MLB season for new closer Jonathan Papelbon to save Washington’s season? The Washington Nationals (54-50, –4.97 betting units) would miss the playoffs if they started today. They’ll try to get their season back on track Wednesday night when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks (51-53, +2.32 units) in Game 3 of a four-game set.

Gio Gonzalez (3.18 FIP) will try to stop the bleeding Wednesday night. Gonzalez has pitched very well this year, leading Washington to 4.78 units in earnings on a team record of 12-7, including four of his last six starts. Gonzalez has allowed six earned runs combined during this hot spell, but he’s also having trouble going deep into games, so Papelbon (2.91 FIP) and the rest of Washington’s No. 6-ranked bullpen (3.3 WAR) will be on notice.

The Diamondbacks aren’t completely out of playoff contention at 51-53 (+2.32 units), and they won the first game of this series 6-4 as +112 underdogs. Rubby De La Rosa (4.67 FIP) will try to keep the ball rolling in Game 3; Arizona is 12-9 in De La Rosa’s 21 starts for 3.30 units in profit.

Gio Gonzalez and the slumping Washington Nationals (54-50, –4.97 betting units) will try to get their season back on track Wednesday night when they host Rubby De La Rosa and the Arizona Diamondbacks (51-53, +2.32 units) in Game 3 of a four-game set. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.

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Super Bowl XXXVI – Patriots vs Rams

Super Bowl XXXVI – Big Upset – New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17


This was the Super Bowl that turned it around for Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots had a hard beginning to their season after losing their first two games and then losing their star quarter back, Drew Bledsoe, to injury. However the second string quarterback, Tom Brady, more than filled his shoes. Coach Bill Belichick put together a complicated defense system in which the Patriots used it to their great advantage.

The defense hit the Rams hard and managed to limit the Rams best offense in the league to a single field goal. Warner took a hard hit am managed to injure his thumb on his throwing hand. He stayed in the game and threw an interception that was returned for a New England touchdown in the second quarter.

The Patriots led 14-3 at half time and added 3 more in the third quarter to lead 17-3. Then the Rams came pounding back. Kurt Warner Led his team to the 2 yard line and scored a touchdown by himself. Then he threw a 26 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 17 a piece with 90 seconds left in the game.

The kickoff from the Rams put the Patriots on the 17 yard line. Brady then went to work for the win. Short pass after short pass New England’s offense worked down the field from their 17 to the Rams’ 31 yard line. By then the clock ticked down to seven seconds left.

Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri launched a 48 yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl win. Tom Brady, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, was awarded Super Bowl MVP honors for his outstanding game.

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Tennis Odds: Pavlyuchenkova Favored at Baku Cup


Tennis Odds: Pavlyuchenkova reaches quarter-finals at Baku Cup

Top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova only had a light workout as she progressed to the quarter-finals of the Baku Cup after Kateryna Bondarenko retired early on in their second-round match. Bondarenko withdrew due to injury after 13 minutes with Pavlyuchenkova leading 3-0.

It means the Russian number-one seed will face either Kristen Flipkens or Vitala Diatchenko in the last eight.

Fresh off hosting the controversial first edition of the European Games, the Azerbaijani capital of Baku is back in the sports spotlight with the fifth annual Baku Cup. Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the clear outright favorite at +350.  Pavlyuchenkova, the No. 42-ranked player on the WTA Tour, needed a third-set tiebreaker to beat fellow Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova in Tuesday’s opening round.

Other top Baku Cup favorites remaining in the field  include No. 2 seed Karin Knapp (+600) from Italy, Kirsten Flipkens (+700) from Germany, and Margarita Gasparyan (+900) from Russia. Gasparyan could be the value pick here after beating No. 3 seed Dominika Cibulkova (–175) in the opening round. Knapp might be tiring after a deep run to the finals at Bad Gastein, while Flipkens has been dealing with a knee injury.

Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan also progressed to the quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-4 win over China’s Yang Zhaoxuan and Donna Vekic booked her place with a 6-4 0-6 6-3 victory against Zhu Lin.

Alexandra Panova moved into the quarter-finals thanks to her 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win over Andrea Hlavackova.

Meanwhile, second seed Karin Knapp made comfortable progress into the second round with a straight sets win over Stefanie Voegele.

Italian Knapp came through 6-1 6-4 in an hour to line up a match with Anett Kontaveit.

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Super Bowl XXXII – Denver Broncos vs Green Bay Packers

PackersBroncos-Super Bowl

Super Bowl XXXII – Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

Super Bowl XXXII took place in Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego California, on January 25, 1998.  Denver took on the defending champion Green Bay Packers in what would be a classic Super Bowl Battle.  The Green Bay Packers were a huge 11.5 point favorite in the game against the Denver Broncos, who made it to the Super Bowl as a wild card team.

Denver had the 17-14 lead at half-time even though Terrell Davis sat out most of the second quarter with a migraine headache. With 1:45 left in the game, Denver and Green Bay was tied at 24-24. Denver had the ball when on second and goal, Terrell Davis scored his third touchdown of the day to give Denver a 31-24 lead.

Terrell Davis rushed for 157 yards and caught 2 passes for 8 yards. Coach for Green Bay, Mike Holmgren, told the defense to let Davis score as that would give Bret Favre and the Green Bay offense more time to drive down the field and tie the game. The reason Holmgren let them score was because it looked like Denver was going to run down the clock and kick a field goal. His decision didn’t work. Brett Favre  drove the Packers into Denver territory, but John Mobley (51) knocked down Favre’s fourth-down pass to Mark Chmura with less than 30 seconds left to give the Broncos and veteran quarterback John Elway their first Super Bowl championship, 31-24.

Terell Davis was Super Bowl MVP. It was the first Super Bowl victory by a wild-card team, and only the second over all. The last wild-card winners were the Oakland Raiders in 1981.

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MLB Betting: Mets Host Padres with Deadline Looming


MLB : Padres-Mets in Justin Upton Sweepstakes

The New York Mets (51-48, +2.88 units) haven’t been very good since back in April, but with the NL East still up for grabs, they’ve added some talent before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They could add some more when the San Diego Padres (47-52, –4.64 units) visit Flushing for a three-game set.  Game 2 is this Wednesday at 7:10 PM ET.

The Padres haven’t performed nearly as well as expected this year, and they’re on the verge of a considerable makeover, with Justin Upton (.759 OPS) the top priority. The Mets are said to be in the market for San Diego outfielder Justin Upton (.759 OPS), who could be in a New York uniform by Wednesday. Maybe he can help Bartolo Colon (3.59 FIP) secure a win after the Mets scored a grand total of four runs in his last six starts. The Mets acquired Juan Uribe (.744 OPS) and Kelly Johnson (.773 OPS) from the Atlanta Braves, along with closer Tyler Clippard (3.89 FIP) from the Oakland Athletics.

As for Wednesday’s start, Bartolo Colon (3.59 FIP) will be taking the mound for the Mets against Tyson Ross (2.75 FIP). New York has lost Colon’s last six games in a row, scoring a grand total of four runs during that spell to fall to 9-10 (–0.66 units) behind the veteran righty. San Diego is 10-11 in Ross’ 21 starts for a loss of 2.36 units.

Which team will Justin Upton (.759 OPS) be playing for Wednesday when the San Diego Padres (47-52, –4.64 units) visit the New York Mets (51-48, +2.88 units)? The Mets have been adding players before the trade deadline, and Upton is on their shopping list.

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