This O's-Yankees series is a great example of why you shouldn't get too high or too low on a team right out of the gate. Some high-profile Baltimore fans were ready to punt on the season after getting swept by Houston. Now, the O's are in great position to take a four-game series from the Yanks in the Bronx.
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Okay, fine. Did we need some extra innings to cash out on Friday? Yes. Yes we did. But the Free Pick got it done all the same, as Orioles pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the 14th with a grand slam to right field. That pushed us over the posted total and green-lit the bonus lean I gave out, Orioles +158. Hooray for money!
The Free Pick is now 4-1-1 on baseball picks this season, which is a great start. Let's keep it going.
Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. EST
Sal Romano (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs
Chad Kuhl (1-0, 6.35 ERA)
Talk about two clubs going in the wrong direction. If you haven't checked the standings yet, you might be surprised to find that Pittsburgh has raced out to first in the NL Central, ahead of the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers. The Reds, meanwhile, could end up being the worst team in the National League.
With first place playing last place, this is a classic spot to take either the run line or the underdog. But I'm not doing either.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Pirates are being undervalued here, as only a -123 favorite. At first glance, you might be tempted to think it's because of the small-sample-size ERA numbers the starters posted in their first outings of the season. Alternatively, perhaps bookmakers haven't bought into the new-look Pirates just yet.
Either way, if you go back and watch their first games of 2018, Kuhl actually pitched far better than Romano, who was lucky to only get tagged for three runs in a loss to the Nats last Sunday. His command was poor. Unless he shows major improvement, he's likely to get plunked by a Bucs lineup that's scored 35 runs in its last five games.
Even with a 6-1 record out of the gate, the Pirates are a strong value play here. Back Pittsburgh and the small moneyline before it shoots up throughout the afternoon. We've got a small lean on the over, too.
Pick: Pittsburgh -123