Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 15, 2016 at 9:54 AM
THE MLB SECOND-HALF UPDATE: BASEBALL'S BACK AND HERE'S A TRIO OF GREAT WEEKEND MATCHUPS
PLUS THERE'S MORE NFL TEAM GLANCES WITH THE TEXANS AND GIANTS ON TAP TODAY
Hey, Baseball, welcome back ...
We've all got some winning to do to catch up on all that quiet time the past few days, so let's get to it already!
The Major-League Baseball schedule swings into action today beginning with a matinee tilt between the Texas Rangers at the Chicago Cubs - and that's where we will start our look at this weekend's three best series - and there's plenty to say about Rangers-Cubs, Miami at St. Louis and Boston at the New York Yankees.
THE WEEKEND'S BEST MATCHUPS
TEXAS (54-36) at CHICAGO (53-35) - Fri, Sat & Sun
If the Cubbies didn't take a little pre-All-Star Game nosedive (see eight losses in their last 10 games) than we might well be pitting the two best teams in baseball record-wise right here at historic Wrigley Field for this three-game set. Still, kudos to the visiting Rangers who exit the break with the best record in the American League and with a rollicking lineup that ranks third in the league in runs scored (443) thanks in large part to All-Star OF Ian Desmond (.322 batting average, 65 runs scored). If Chicago starters Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester - among others - can't corral Desmond here than Jeff Banister's crew could wreck some havoc in Chitown.
MIAMI (47-41) at ST. LOUIS (46-42) - Fri, Sat & Sun
As we mentioned in yesterday's edition of Jim Sez, the Cardinals have experienced major home woes this season (see 19-26 at Busch Stadium) but now comes a 10-game home stand that starts out with St. Loo hurlers looking to keep Miami OF Giancarlo Stanton (20 home runs) in the ballpark after his muscled-up win earlier this week in the All-Star Home Run Derby ... egads, did he whack some near 500-foot homers or what! No question a big part of Miami's second-half success will be whether ace RHP Jose Fernandez (11 victories) can win on the road. Stay tuned.
BOSTON (49-38) at NEW YORK YANKEES (44-44) - Fri, Sat & Sun Nite (ESPN)
Folks in these parts like to call this the "best rivalry in baseball" but no doubt there's been some slippage in recent years. Still, Red Sox-Yankees in the heart of the summer is always fun stuff and here's Boston just two games back of AL East-leading Baltimore while beginning post-All-Star Game play while the Yankees come in energized after winning three-of-four in Cleveland last weekend - and now Yanks' All-Star OF/DH Carlos Beltran (19 HR, 56 RBI) looks to take his hacks at that right-field porch and we'll be keenly interested in his at-bats against knuckleballer All-Star RHP Steven Wright (2.68 ERA).
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday and Sunday. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Sunday, August 7th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Indianapolis Colts versus the Green Bay Packers.
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Houston Texans and the New York Giants ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too. Last year's SU (straight-up) records appear next to the team name below and includes all post-season results:
HOUSTON (9-8) - No doubt that all eyes will be on new Texans' QB Brock Osweiler this year but count us among the folks that believe the former Denver slinger won't hit many high notes if LT Duane Brown is compromised following off-season surgery for a torn quad tendon suffered in last year's regular-season finale against Jacksonville. Brown has told Houston media that he plans to be ready early on in training camp and so he should be good-to-go for the season-opening game against Chicago. Brown's entering his ninth year in the league and he's been underappreciated for much of his career ... No Brown early on in 2016 and Osweiler could spend lots of time on the ground.
Pointspread Notes - Believe it or not, last year's Texans covered five-of-six games when placed in the favorite's role and so Houston is now a collective 11-3 ATS (against the spread) overall as chalk sides since the start of 2014.
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-10) - Much was made of the fact last year's Giants lost eight-of-nine games SU that were decided by 6-or-fewer points but it wasn't as if there was only one culprit. The defense late in games tended to collapse; the ground game didn't eat up enough yards/clock but first-year head coach Ben McAdoo - the team's former and current offensive coordinator - says more carries for RB Rashad Jennings may help. The G-men say they'd ideally like Jennings to get up to 18 carries a game - last year he averaged a shade over 12 carries per outing en route to an 863-yard season (4.4 ypc).
Pointspread Notes - In case you were wondering, the Tom Coughlin Era ended in New Jersey with the Giants registering an overall 107-92-4 ATS mark (that's a .538 winning rate) in his dozen years on the job and last season "Big Blue" split its six NFC East spread verdicts right down the middle for a third consecutive year.
Note: Ladies and gents, we wrap up our 32-team look at all the NFL teams prior to training camp with a glance at the Green Bay Packers and the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in tomorrow's weekend edition of Jim Sez.