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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 12, 2012 at 7:20 AM

The commissioner couldn’t be happier as all four divisional series in the Major League Baseball playoffs have gone the maximum five games. San Francisco and Detroit won their series finales Thursday in Cincinnati and Oakland respectively. The final two LCS entries will be determined Friday when St. Louis/Washington and Baltimore/NYY come to their dramatic conclusions.

Let’s check the key stats for today’s starting pitchers.

BALTIMORE at NY YANKEES (Thursday at 5:07 p.m. on TBS)

Hammel: 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .234 opponents’ batting average

Sabathia: 3.38 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .238 opponents’ batting average

Vegas Line: NY Yankees -200, total of 7.5

Earlier Starts This Series

Hammel: 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 8 baserunners allowed in Game One

Sabathia: 8.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 9 baserunners allowed in Game One

This series has been unbelievably close on a game-by-game basis. Check this out!

Game One: 2-2 in the 9th

Game Two: 3-2 in the 9th

Game Three: 2-2 in the 9th, ultimately decided in 12th inning

Game Four: 1-1 in the 9th, ultimately decided in 13th inning

These teams battled right down to the wire of the regular season thanks to a surge from Baltimore and a late fade by the Yankees. New York was favored in the series because of their payroll and experience. But, that fade has largely continued (at least offensively) outside of one big top of the 9th inning in the series opener. New York hasn’t been able to get much on the board against the disrespected Orioles staff.

Sabathia has an edge here in the finale. You can see in the opener that it had to be “Hammel plus Relievers” matching what Sabathia was doing all night. Of course, Baltimore’s relievers have been doing a great job all season. They’ll try to make the formula work one last time as they try to steal the series on the road.

You know Sabathia wants to match what Justin Verlander did last night in Oakland in terms of being an ace who carries the team on his broad shoulders. There’s been some inconsistency for the big man this year…which gives Baltimore a ray of hope that its Cinderella season can continue.

ST. LOUIS at WASHINGTON (Thursday at 8:37 p.m. on TBS)

Wainwright: 3.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .259 opponents’ batting average

Gonzalez: 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .206 opponents’ batting average

Vegas Line: Washington -130, total of 7

Earlier Starts This Series

Wainwright: 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 10 K, 9 baserunners allowed in Game One

Gonzalez: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 8 baserunners allowed in Game One

You’ll recall that Gonzalez only allowed one hit in the series opener, but walked SEVEN Cardinals hitters. Maybe with yesterday’s umpires that would have been two walks with a dozen K’s. How big were those strike zones Thursday?! Both pitchers were tough to hit in the opener…but used up their arms quicker than expected throwing so many pitches. Gonzalez had the better full season numbers to a clear and meaningful degree…which is why he’s the betting favorite in Las Vegas.

Just remember that road teams won both Game Fives on Thursday…and are doing very well overall in the postseason. The defending World Champions surely have a chance to overcome the “Natitude” that’s overcome Washington DC. Particularly if the Nats’ bats don’t liven up.

Runs Scored per game for Washington:

3, 4, 0, 2

That’s an average of 2.25 runs-per-game over the first four. St. Louis scored more in its Game Two victory than Washington has scored all series! And, it was just one run Thursday afternoon heading into the bottom of the 9th inning. Tough to win a game on the hopes that enough solo home runs will bail you out.

You were forewarned that there would be a lot of drama in this year’s MLB playoffs. The divisional round will go down in history as one of the best ever regardless of who wins today. And, you know that San Francisco and Detroit are chomping at the bit to get going in the LCS.

Our VSM handicappers are this excited EVERY DAY about making money for their clients. Be sure you check out the home page of this website and the “Buy Picks” page Friday afternoon for baseball details and bulletins about the Navy-Central Michigan college football game that will be televised Friday Night on ESPN 2.

Build your bankrolls today for the huge weekend ahead. Big games Saturday include Texas-Oklahoma, Stanford-Notre Dame, South Carolina-LSU, and quite a few others. Sunday’s NFL brings Dallas-Baltimore, NY Giants-San Francisco, Green Bay-Houston, amidst a solid full day card.

Why struggle on your own when you can link up with the Dean of Sports Handicapping Kelso Sturgeon, the King of Las Vegas Wayne Allyn Root, the man behind the line Richie B., and longtime industry legends Jim Hurley and Jim Feist?  The biggest names in the history of this industry are waiting to hear from you!

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