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Long shot Puig finishes second in Del Mar debut

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Long shot Puig finished second in his career debut at Del Mar, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig supporting the horse on Twitter.

Puig lost by 3 1/4 lengths in the $60,000 fifth race on Sunday at the seaside track north of San Diego. He paid $17.80 and $9.60 at 32-1 odds under jockey Santiago Gonzalez.

The Kentucky-bred colt earned $12,000 in the 6 1/2-furlong race. He is trained by Scott Hansen and owned by Gary Broad.

Puig of the Dodgers re-tweeted a photo of the horse leaving the paddock before the race.

MLB Home Run Derby odds boil down to Stanton, Judge

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The combination of a home ballpark and being the only returning power hitter in the field has put Giancarlo Stanton atop the MLB Home Run Derby futures board – albeit barely.

Defending champion Stanton, of the hometown Miami Marlins, is listed as a +165 betting favorite to capture MLB’s annual contest of clout at Marlins Park on Monday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge, who has an MLB-best 30 home runs and is threatening to take down Mark McGwire’s rookie record, is listed right behind at +175. By virtue of having had more home runs on June 15, Stanton is the No. 1 seed, whereas Judge is No. 2.

Eight players will be participating in a bracket-style timed event, where each player has four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. Hitters get another 30 seconds if they hit two home runs measured at more than 440 feet.

Stanton, who bashed 61 big flies during the 2016 contest at San Diego’s Petco Park, will try to become just the third repeat champion and third player to win in his home park. Judge will try to be the first rookie to win since 1986.

Either player is a worthy play, but there’s far, far greater value in picking one of the darkhorses. For the quarter-finals, Staton faces that other Yankees rookie, Gary Sanchez (+1400 to win). Sanchez has the longest average home-run distance in the field (422 feet to Judge’s 415 and Stanton’s 410) and could be an early bracket-buster. Upsetting Stanton would throw the field wide-open.

The Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano (+1000) and Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (+1400) meet in the other quarter-final in the “Stanton region” of the bracket. Sano (average home run distance of 414 feet) should also be considered a darkhorse.

Judge faces the other Marlins representative, Justin Bour (+1400), in his quarter-final. Bour has an average home-run distance of 398 feet – tied with Moustakas for lowest in the field – and might be a bit of a sacrificial lamb up against Judge.

Meantime, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger (+900 on the 2017 Home Run Derby odds) and the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon (+2000) meet in an all-NL West quarter-final. Bellinger has enlisted his father Clay Bellinger as his pitcher and will be the fourth competitor to have his dad serving up meatballs. One of the other three (Robinson Cano in 2011) won and another (Bryce Harper in 2015) was runner-up.

Blackmon, meantime, faces a potential Bellinger-Judge tag team just to make the final, so his high price is probably a red herring.

Cubs favorites against Dodgers in Game 3 of NLCS on Tuesday

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Jake Arrieta returns to the stadium where he twirled a no-hitter last season as the Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS on Tuesday night.

With the best-of-seven league championship series square at 1-1 the Cubs are the -125 betting favorite for Game 3. The host Dodgers, who will start LHP Rich Hill, are a slight underdog at +105 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is at 6.5 runs.

The Cubs are 7-11 straight-up in their last 18 road games against the Dodgers, according to the OddsShark MLB Database.

Arrieta has regressed since being nearly unhittable in the first two months of this season, but the Cubs have won in six of his last 10 starts. Counting the no-hitter, the Cubs’ ace has made four starts against the Dodgers, with a 3.24 earned-run average and a .119 opponents’ batting average. While 25 innings is a small sample, Arrieta has a high walk rate against the Dodgers, having issued 15 bases on balls.

Arrieta (game log) has not worked since October 10, when he allowed two earned runs over six innings during Game 3 of the NLDS. In 25 career starts where he has had six or more days of rest, Arrieta has a 2.45 ERA and a .196 opponents’ average.

While the Cubs are throwing their ace, several hitters are slumping. Second baseman Ben Zobrist, CF Dexter Fowler, 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo have yet to put up offensive numbers through the first five postseason games.

Hill (game log) is working on three days’ rest for the first time in more than a decade, although he lasted fewer than three innings in his last outing in Game 5 of the Dodgers’ NLDS against the Washington Nationals.

The 36-year-old lefty has resuscitated his career by relying on his curveball and four-seam fastball, which will give the Cubs’ hitters a different look than what they faced when they were stymied by Dodgers ace LHP Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 on Sunday.

The Dodgers are 4-4 SU with Hill starting. Hill has not worked six full innings in any of his last five starts, so Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts could have a quick hook. Closer Kenley Jansen was the only reliever needed during the 1-0 Dodgers win in Game 2, prior to the travel day.

The total has gone over in seven of Arrieta’s last 10 starts on the road, with one push. However, the total has gone under in seven of Hill’s last 10 home starts, also with one push. The total has also gone under in five of Hill’s eight starts for the Dodgers.