New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett is off to a solid start this season, and he faces a prime opportunity to keep rolling when he faces the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Thursday night.
Burnett (2-0, 3.20 ERA) has come as advertised since signing with the Yankees before last season, but he's been especially good lately. The hardthrowing righthander has a 2.66 ERA in his last three starts, during which New York is 3-0 against the moneyline.
Burnett faces some high-powered offenses in the American League East, but he could get a break as the Yanks and O's close out their three-game series. Baltimore has stumbled in April because of an anemic offense that ranks 29th in baseball with 3.35 runs per game.
If their offense has struggled, the Orioles' pitching staff has performed well. Lefthander Brian Matusz (2-0, 4.38 ERA) takes the ball on Thursday night, as Baltimore goes for its sixth win in his last nine outings dating back to last season.
Over in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a four-game set at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night. The Pirates took two of three from the Dodgers at PNC Park earlier this month, although Los Angeles (-140) won the series finale 10-2 on April 8.
Pittsburgh (+160) cashed 4-3 in 10 innings the previous night, as Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was chased after giving up three runs over 4 2-3 innings. Kershaw (1-0, 3.13 ERA) toes the rubber on Thursday night in his second start of the season against the Bucs.
Kershaw, who has a 2.19 ERA at home this year, needs to put in a good performance against Pittsburgh to make L.A. a worthwhile play. Manny Ramirez (calf) is on the 15-day disabled list, while Rafael Furcal (hamstring) is day-to-day for the Dodgers.
Hard as it is to believe, Los Angeles comes into Thursday's games looking up at the San Diego Padres in the NL West standings. The Padres look to maintain the gap when they kick off a four-gamer with the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park on Thursday night.
San Diego won four of six against the moneyline from Milwaukee last season, and it's a sharp wager to get off on the right foot this year. The Brewers send Doug Davis (0-2, 8.35 ERA) to the mound on Thursday night, while the Padres counter with Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 1.82 ERA).