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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 07/14/2009

Losing stings when a game goes just like you thought it would, but you end up on the wrong side.

Those times when your team’s running game was way too much for the other team’s injury-ravaged D-line. But a tipped pass is intercepted and returned for a meaningless touchdown, preventing you from covering.

Or when you play the under in hoops, and the game is 30 points under at the end of regulation … before going into overtime.

They hurt.

Yes, yes … before all you righteous gamblers start whining about our whining, we understand these things happen. Trust us.

That doesn’t make losing a game you clearly were on the right side of hurt any less.

For example, let’s look at Saturday’s Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game.

The Pirates sent Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Phillies’ Cole Hamels.

Ohlendorf has pitched better than his 7-7 record suggests. He’s got great stuff and someone to look out for in the future.

On the other hand, Hamels recently has been way worse than his 5-5 mark.

Yet, the Pirates were big underdogs at +230. Noting Philly’s struggles at home and Pittsburgh’s superior bullpen in addition to the perceived pitching advantage, the Pirates looked like a good value.

Just like everyone else has, Pittsburgh smacked around Hamels early. They hit three home runs and led 5-0 after two innings.

Meanwhile, Ohlendorf was solid, but threw a lot of pitches and wore down in the sixth. Still, he left with a 5-3 lead.

Hamels had been knocked out too, so it was a battle of the bullpens. As noted, Pittsburgh’s bullpen is significantly better than Philadelphia’s in ERA and save percentage.

Two Phillies’ relievers promptly surrendered a couple of insurance runs in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk and an RBI groundout.

Pittsburgh took a 7-3 into the ninth and handed it over to closer Matt Capps, who had converted on 19-of 20 save opportunities.

Make that 19 of 21.

The Phillies hit Capps hard and often, rallying for five runs, including two home runs, to pull out the victory.

Again, we agree these things happen. But do you agree Pittsburgh was the right side, and in that same situation would win 70 to 80 percent of those games?

Are we truly whiny or are we human?

Be nice.

Happy All-Star break, everyone. Congrats if you’re up at the midway mark, and here’s to hoping things turn around if you’re not.

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