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September 18, 2015 (Posted at 2:00 PM ET)

Take Seattle Mariners as underdogs (+138) on the Money Line against Texas Rangers risking 3% to win 4.14%!
(Paxton and Gallardo must start for wager to have action)

The Rangers are coming off a Texas-size sweep of their direct AL West rivals, the Houston Astros! It was an incredible feat and one that helped them not only take the lead in the division but to extend it. They now sit 2.5 games ahead of the Astros and 5 ahead of the Angels and are suddenly in the driver's seat. The problem? They find themselves in a massive let-down spot tonight and may well still be in 'party mode'. Jeff Banister will of course be urging his players to not get complacent and to remain focused but that is easier said than done for a club that had gone 2 full years without sweeping a team in a 4-game series! Some of the players will still be thinking about their heroic efforts over the last 4 days and that makes fielding errors and concentration mistakes more likely tonight.

The Mariners won't be making the post-season but they are a team that feasts on opponents that overlook them. Manager Lloyd McClendon and his ambitious group of players don't take their underdog status lightly and are often extra fired up when they take on division opponents. Slugger Nelson Cruz finds himself in a tight race for leading home run hitter of the Majors and needs to have a strong finish to the season to keep the chasing pack in his rearview. He and the rest of the gang have remained motivated and recently played spoiler against another playoff hopeful in LA Angels. Robinson Cano has finally started to play better as well as of late and that could pose new problems for righty, Yovani Gallardo.

The veteran Gallardo is coming off a rough start in which he gave up 5 runs in less than 5 innings! He'll be challenged by the M's tonight as they often have an easier time hitting right-handers than southpaws. Mark Trumbo and Nelson Cruz have had success against Gallardo in the past and could continue that tonight. Let's not forget that the Mariners are one of the few ball clubs that actually play better on the road (37-35) than they do at Safeco Field where they own a losing (34-41) record! On the other hand, while the Rangers have played very well in Arlington in the second half of the season, they too, are one of the few teams that has a better winning % on the highway. The M's have won 5 straight games on the road and are confident and well rested coming into this game.

The crafty James Paxton will get the ball for Seattle tonight and he's a pitcher that the Rangers have had very few at-bats against. The 26-year old was carrying an injury earlier this season and should fare well against a squad that generally struggles against left-handed hurlers. Some of the biggest power-hitters in the Texas lineup are lefties themselves, players such as Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland and rookie Joey Gallo. It is understandable then that tend to see the ball late when a southpaw is tossing. The Rangers are a mediocre 28-28 against lefties like Paxton but have hit righties very hard going 51-39! They will find Paxton's delivery hard to decipher and that should give the M's an advantage from the starting pitching point of view.

The betting public is largely made up of bandwagoners and they've all jumped on Texas after seeing them destroy the Astros over the past few nights! This type of reactionary behaviour is rarely profitable and it is telling that the odds have held steady despite over 80% of the bettors backing the Rangers! This is a 50-50 game that can go either way and yet one side is a sizable underdog due to skewed perceptions. All the value is on the capable underdogs tonight as the Rangers have won 5 in a row and may incorrect believe that they can now win games without 100% effort and concentration. Complacency is a killer in sports and we expect the Mariners to play the role of spoiler tonight. Especially since trade deadline acquisition, Cole Hamels will be starting on the hill tomorrow before Holland faces off against King Felix Hernandez in the series finale! Sandwitched right in between a 4-0 sweep of the Astros and two higher profile pitching matchups coming up is this contest which adds to the let-down aspect for Texas.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Seattle is 35-29 against division rivals this season.
  • Rangers are just 29-34 against AL West clubs.
  • Seattle has won 21 of its last 30 games after a day of rest over the last 2 seasons!
  • Gallardo is 0-7 against teams with losing records in the second half of the last 2 years!

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