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by Ben Burns - 08/26/2008
Only three of this week's first 15 NFLX games were decided by three points or less vs. the pointspread. As a group, the Week 3 pointspread winners covered by an average margin of 13.8 points. With the average Week 3 spread being covered by two touchdowns, there weren't as many last second heartbreakers as usual.
Therefore, for this week's edition of "Bad Beats" we'll be looking at a pair of tough losses (for some) from Sunday's baseball slate. We'll be having much bigger football cards from here on out, so there should be plenty of gridiron action to talk about. Remember, if you'd like to see your bad beat stories featured in next week's column, email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the details.
Devil Rays at White Sox
Sunday, August 24
Tampa Bay has broken plenty of bettors' hearts this season, with numerous late inning comeback victories. The Rays' luck temporarily ran out yesterday. On the verge of their first-ever three-game sweep at Chicago and also their first road sweep of an American League team this season, the Rays took a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. Without injured closer Troy Percival available, Dan Wheeler was called upon to preserve the 4 -3 lead. With two outs there was a play at the plate. Ben Zobrist's throw arrived in plenty of time to get pinch-runner Brian Anderson. However, it skipped off Tampa catcher Shawn Riggans and Anderson was able to score the tying run. That was just the beginning for Tampa Bay bettors though.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 10th inning and we find Chicago's AJ Pierzynski caught in a rundown between second and third base. Even in little league, almost nobody escapes these type of plays, let alone at the major league level. In this case, Pierzynski appeared to be tagged but was awarded third base by second base umpire Doug Eddings, who claimed that Tampa's third baseman Willy Aybar committed interference. The Rays complaints fell on deaf ears and Pierzynski eventually proved to be the winning run.
Interestingly, Eddings and Pierzynski have some previous history together, as they were at the center of a disputed call in the 2005 American League Championship series. You may recall the play. Pierzynski struck out in the ninth inning of that game but Eddings ruled the pitch had bounced in the dirt. The Angels ran off the field. Pierzynski hustled to first. The Sox rallied to win the game and the series.
As bad beats are subjective, Chicago bettors could argue that they actually deserved to win Sunday's game, based on the fact that three of Tampa's five runs were unearned. That would be a valid argument but I had the White Sox and I would still classify it as one of my luckier recent wins. At the very least, I know that if the shoe was on the other foot and I had a ticket on the underdog Rays, I would have felt rather unfortunate. Regardless, it's important to remember that our "lucky" wins are someone else's bad beats.
Dodgers at Phillies
Sunday, August 24
While football remains the king, Sunday night baseball games receive plenty of action. I didn't personally play the Dodgers/Phillies game but I had several friends who did. While never exactly comfortable, Dodger backers felt pretty good the entire way considering their team jumped off to an early lead and their starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, was nearly unhittable.
Kuroda finished having allowed two hits and one run through six complete innings. The Dodgers scored a run in the first inning and the Phillies tied in the fifth. The Dodgers reclaimed the lead (2-1) and carried it all the way to the bottom of the ninth inning. In fact, they were one out away from winning until Pedro Feliz delivered a game-tying single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. That forced extra innings. It looked liked the Dodgers might bounce back as they loaded the bases with nobody out in the 10th inning but Chad Durbin shut the door right. The next inning, Feliz was again the hero delivering a walkoff three-run homer and sealing a 5-2 victory for Phillies. Bad beat for those who bet Dodgers? That's open for debate and I'll let you make the call. I know the couple of people I talked to who had the Dodgers sure weren't too pleased though!