I hope everybody has a wonderful Independence Day!
For the past 232 years, the United States has had countless men and women fight for maintain what the Fourth of July has come to signify: our freedom. So while you’re eating hot dogs, watching fireworks, and playing some ball, remember those people who have made it all possible.
Here are the picks for this weekend.
Friday, July 4 – Picks lock at 1:00 Eastern
Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins
I guess it’s ironic to pick a Canadian on America’s Independence Day. But Morneau is hitting .421 (16-38) against Indians’ starter Paul Byrd while carrying a .310 average through Wednesday. Those 16 hits against Byrd include three homers, two doubles, and a triple. He’s also hitting .321 against righties and .351 in his past 10 games.
Dmitri Young, Washington Nationals
The way I figure it, Dmitri will probably be upset that he can’t participate in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, and he’ll take all that frustration out on the baseball. His nemesis on this day is Bronson Arroyo, against whom Young is hitting .471 (8-17) with a homer and a pair of doubles. To top it off, Arroyo’s ERA is 6.19 and his opponent’s batting average is .316.
Saturday, July 5 – Picks lock at 3:50 Eastern
Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Lowell is hitting .579 (11-19) against Yankees’ starter Mike Mussina in his career. That kind of sustained success warrants a selection, especially when Lowell is hitting .298 on the season. Mussina doesn’t walk very many hitters, either, which means plenty of baseballs will be put in play. Lowell has hit three homers and two doubles against Mussina.
Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Sticking with the Red Sox theme, I’ll offer Manny Ramirez as a viable second option for Saturday. While Ramirez is struggling in his past 10 games, hitting just .162, he’s fared much better against Mussina over the years. While his career average is .280 against the ‘Moose,’ Ramirez has hit .400 (18-45) against him since 2003. Nine of Ramirez’ 28 career hits have been homers.
Sunday, July 6 – Picks lock at 1:10 Eastern
J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee Brewers
I’ve had plenty of chances to see this match-up. Hardy has done very well for himself against Pirates’ hurler Zach Duke. Hardy has posted a .615 average (8-13) against Duke in his career with two homers. Hardy is hitting .425 in his past 10 games and .342 in the last 30 days.
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Nate Robertson, Sunday’s starter for the Tigers, has an opponent’s batting average of .315. Ichiro is hitting .323 against him, and he’s hitting .301 for the season. Ichiro consistently is at the top of the hit list each season, and this match-up gives him plenty of chances to add some knocks to his 2008 total.