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Look to ride surging Cardinals, Athletics rest of season

Updated August 22, 2018 - 7:00 pm

Las Vegas sports books lost a large chunk of cash on the 2011 world champion St. Louis Cardinals, who were 500-1 long shots to win the National League pennant and 1,000-1 to win the World Series. They erased a 10½-game deficit in the wild-card standings before their postseason run.

“They’re the team that taught pretty much every bookmaker in town a lesson about moving the odds,” said handicapper Micah Roberts, a former Las Vegas sports book director.

The 2018 Cardinals remind Roberts of that 2011 title team, minus the astronomical odds. St. Louis, which was 80-1 to win the World Series in early August, was at 16-1 on Wednesday after tying for the top spot in the wild-card race.

“That price is no longer attractive, but bettingwise (on a daily basis), the Cardinals are definitely a hot team right there with Oakland,” said Roberts (Sportsline.com). “They’re playing inspired ball, with great pitching and timely hitting.

“Just ride the streaks right now. It’s all about momentum and streaks now more so than in April and May.”

When Mike Matheny was fired as St. Louis manager July 14, the Cardinals were 47-46 and trailed the Cubs by 7½ games in the NL Central. Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers, St. Louis had won 20 of 27 and was 16-4 in August to pull within 2½ games of Chicago.

St. Louis is a 7-2 underdog at William Hill sports book to win the NL Central, and Roberts wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals come out on top.

“The Cubs and Brewers are kind of spinning their wheels and stuck in the mud,” he said. “Right now, the Cardinals look like they have purpose.”

St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas has been one of baseball’s top money pitchers this season, as the Cardinals have gone 18-7 in his starts.

Straight A’s

Oakland has been baseball’s biggest surprise and the most profitable team for bettors. Despite Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers, the Athletics have won 15 of their past 20 and are on a 42-15 run in the past two months. Oakland also is on a 16-6-1 under streak.

While Roberts still expects the Astros to win the American League West, he recommends backing the A’s the rest of the way.

“Their team rating is slowly inching up, but they’re underdogs most of the time and you can usually get them at relatively cheap prices,” he said. “They’re fun. If you watch any home games, the crowd is just incredible. They take that old stadium and they rock it.”

The Dodgers trailed the Diamondbacks by 3½ games in the NL West entering Wednesday, but remained the minus 110 favorites to win the division. Roberts likes the Dodgers not only to take control of the NL West in September but also to win the World Series.

“I think they put it together,” he said. “They have enough firepower. They’ve got great starting pitching, bullpen, everything. It’s not like the AL, where you have to go through a crazy gauntlet of Houston, Boston and Cleveland. In the NL, I don’t think there’s any match for the Dodgers.

“Maybe the Cubs have a run in them, but they may not even be there.”

Twinbill trend

The Pirates and Blue Jays swept the first two doubleheaders played in the majors this season. But since then, the team that has lost the first game of a doubleheader is 21-4 in the nightcap.

The trend was on a 20-2 run before the Red Sox swept the Orioles on Aug. 11 and the Braves swept the Marlins on Aug. 13. The Phillies got the trend back on track Aug. 16, when they were trounced 24-4 by the Mets in the opener but won the second game 9-6.

The Yankees and Orioles will play a doubleheader Saturday, and the White Sox and Twins have a twinbill scheduled for Sept. 28.

More betting: Follow all of our sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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