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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 12:00 AM



Here's the lowdown, we're three weeks out from this year's Major-League Baseball All-Star Game (in Cleveland) and the thought has crossed our minds as to what teams from "back-in-the-pack" might be able to make up some significant ground between now and July 8th.

If you digested all the weekend results, you saw that Boston and Cleveland swept weekend sets on the road at Baltimore and at Detroit, respectively, but what clubs might we be paying special attention to - and, obviously, cashing with - in these next few weeks? Here's who we have in mind ...

OAKLAND (36-36 / 12 games behind Houston in the American League West) ...
Okay, so the A's might not have enough ammo to ever catch the Astros this year but a wild card is still a possibility for a team that ranks 9th in the bigs in home runs (109) and a better-than-you-think 11th in the majors in team ERA (4.29). Okay, so Oakland right now is your typical .500-type team with a modest 19-17 home record while going 17-19 on the road but check it out: The A's play their next seven straight games at home versus Baltimore and then Tampa Bay and 10 of Oakland's next 16 games are in their own backyard. According to the records, Oakland is $- 399 through its first 72 games this year but we've already known Bob Melvin's squad to ratchet it up come the midway point and so don't be shocked if Oakland comes from "back-in-the-pack" to wrangle its way into the running for that second wild card spot. We'll be paying extra-special attention to these A's the next three weeks - and especially when/if they are taking a price at home.

WASHINGTON (33-38 / 8.5 games behind Atlanta in the National League East) ...
Heck, we don't blame the "experts" who called the Nationals a done deal weeks ago. Truth is, Dave Martinez's club is ranked 14th or lower in the majors when it comes to batting average (.253 / 15th overall), runs scored (352 / 15th overall), home runs (97 / 14th overall) and team ERA (4.70 / 20th overall) and the runs differential heading into tonight's home game against Philadelphia is a meager plus 1. Still, Washington's 14-7 since May 24th and the Nats could make a real crack into the wild card race when you consider they have four home games this week against the Phillies followed by three home games against Atlanta and then it's on the road to play three in Miami and then three in Detroit. If you consider RHPs Max Scherzer (1.08 WHIP) and Stephen Strasburg (1.06 WHIP) and then lefty Patrick Corbin (75 hits allowed in 85.1 innings) will be pitching in approximately 10 of these next 13 games, why can't the Nats make a bit of a pre-All-Star Game charge?

In MLB action on a busy-as-usual Father's Day ...

The New York Yankees (43-27) will welcome slugger Edwin Encarnacion to their lineup beginning with tonight's home game against Tampa Bay but Aaron Boone's Bombers hardly needed the righthanded stick in Sunday's 10-3 split-the-four-game-series win at the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees - who were laying - 230 with LHP James Paxton on the hill - crushed the Chisox behind four-RBI games from OF Brett Gardner and C Austin Romine. The Yankees were favored in all four games versus the Pale Hose while laying -185 in Saturday's 8-4 win, then laying - 109 in Friday's 10-2 loss to RHP Lucas Giolito and were - 165 in last Thursday's 5-4 loss after blowing a 4-0 lead ...

San Diego's 14-13 football-like score win in Colorado on Sunday featured two more home runs by Padres' OF Hunter Renfroe - remember he whacked three dingers in an earlier-series win on Friday - and thus the 92 total runs scored between these sides in the just-completed four-game series set a modern-era record for most runs scored in a four-game set. The scores: Rockies 9-6, Padres 16-12 in 12 innings, Rockies 14-8 and then the 14-13 finale. Yes, "over" players cashed in all four games!

Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have waved bye-bye to the 2018-19 NBA season but there's plenty of winnin' straight ahead as we get you Sides & Totals of Major-League Baseball this weekend and all throughout the current campaign. Just check with us at 1-800-323-4453.



Okay, so now we really know why the Los Angeles Lakers are favored - or at least co-favorites with the Milwaukee Bucks - to win the NBA title in 2020. In our pre-weekend Jim Sez column we wondered about the mindset to place the Lakers at 9-2 betting favs even before they had landed a "name" player to go along with LeBron James but faster than you can say Kobe Bryant, the Lakers had completed a deal to acquire 26-year-old megastar Anthony Davis for a whole truckload of young players / premium draft picks. So, the Lakers are "back", if you will, and what will all that mean in 2019-2020 when it comes to betting lines?

Well, the Lakers finished last year's major disappointing season at 35-46-1 ATS (against the spread) and that included a shabby 17-26-1 spread log as betting favorites. Even now in the rough-and-tumble NBA Western Conference, we can expect the Lakers to be favored in approximately 80 percent of their games overall but our initial gut feeling is it will take James, Davis and friends some time to jell - we know this is for way-down-the-line - but going anti-Lakers whenever favored in their first 10-to-15 games figures to be a winning formula, so clip-n-save this article and we'll revisit things come November!

NOTE: Lots of NBA Draft News straight ahead - the NBA Draft is set for Thursday and we'll have our NBA Mock Draft posted earlier that day.

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