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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Entering the weekend, both the St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s find themselves in very tight battles in their respective MLB divisions. The Cards have been caught from behind by red-hot Pittsburgh, with both teams sitting at 48-30. The A’s and Rangers are separated by percentage points in the AL West. Oakland also knows that the margin of error is very slight in the AL Wildcard race because of all the good teams over in the AL East.

Neither team can miss a step in these tight races…which sets up what could be a great showdown (and potential World Series preview) these next three days in Oakland.

Let’s run through the projected pitching matchups…



St. Louis…Miller: 8-5, 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Oakland…Colon: 10-2, 2.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Miller was making a strong case for Rookie of the Year consideration out of the gate. But, he now only has two quality starts in his last eight outings…as his still-stellar ERA of 2.35 is up from 1.40. He’s having some trouble with high pitch counts limiting how deep he can go into games. And, he’s starting to get hit. Good test for him here stepping up against the superior American League.

Quite a difference in experience here…as a ROY candidate is up against a 40-year old grizzled vet! Time will tell whether Colon found a fountain of youth by fair or nefarious means. He’s certainly getting the job done this year, with guile and his ability to exploit a good home pitcher’s park. Colon has thrown eight straight quality starts, and the A’s have won his last seven outings. Worth thinking about the Under given those pitching stats. But…both offenses had Thursday off, which means they’ll be fresh and rested.



St. Louis…Wainwright: 10-5, 2.31 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

Oakland…Parker: 6-6, 4.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

St. Louis must be pleased to enter this important series with their best 1-2 punch in the rotation. Wainwright will be a very serious Cy Young candidate if he continues this pace for an elite NL team. He’s already on pace to win 20 games!

Parker’s stats up above are misleading, because he had a horrible start to the 2013 season. He’s actually thrown nine straight quality starts, and has an ERA of 2.58 during that span. In other words…for the last several weeks he’s been every bit as good as the other pitchers you’ve read about in this series. Worth looking at an Under here as a result. Great battle between quality pitching and quality offenses in these first two games...but it's all happening in a pitcher’s park.



St. Louis…Westbrook: 4-2, 2.21 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Oakland…Milone: 6-7, 4.06 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

You can see why St. Louis part of a NL Central contingent that’s running away and hiding from the rest of the league! Great ERA’s for the starters pitching this weekend. That 1.35 WHIP of Westbrook is suggesting the ERA is lower than it should be. And, we must remember that Westbrook had a bad early start at Pittsburgh wiped off the stat books by a rainout. Moving forward, handicap based on Westbrook’s WHIP rather than his ERA.

Milone’s been unimpressive in his last two outings…and has been pitching more to that disappointing ERA in recent weeks rather than the nice WHIP. The most vulnerable spot on the A’s staff this weekend…and possibly the only game where you could really think about the Over seriously because one starter is vulnerable, while the other’s ERA is a bit fictional.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big side or total play in this showcase Interleague series. But, there are several other good matchups this weekend. Something special could also be coming in:

Cincinnati at Texas

NY Yankees at Baltimore

Detroit at Tampa Bay

Toronto at Boston (which we previewed yesterday in the NOTEBOOK)

San Francisco at Colorado

What a weekend! You can purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. Complete details on seasonal baseball packages and early-bird football is available in our office at 1-800-323-4453. This weekend is a great time to discuss college and pro football with one of our representatives.

Speaking of football, we’ll begin our summer series of college football conference previews next week on these pages. Look for a two-day discussion of the Mountain West (home of UNLV for all of our Las Vegas bettors). We’ll start with the mid-majors…then we’ll transition to the major conferences when the All-Star Break arrives. A mix of football and baseball will fill the July calendar as we zig and zag with the flow of the MLB schedule.

August brings NFL Preseason action, and eight divisional previews.

For now…it’s baseball…and we’ll be back with you Saturday with an update on what’s been happing to Justin Verlander as he tries to overcome recent struggles on the road against the Rays. Keep the money train rolling with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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