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San Jose shoots for its third arena football title

Times Staff Writer

After weeks of hype -- OK, maybe minutes -- the big game has finally arrived.

Renewing a rivalry nobody outside San Jose and Columbus, Ohio, knew existed, the SaberCats and Destroyers will meet for the Arena Football League championship today in New Orleans.

If San Jose is successful in ArenaBowl XXI, it will be the third title in six years for the SaberCats. They are undefeated in the game, having won in 2002 and 2004.

Most factors point to the American Conference champions remaining perfect. A winner of 15 of 18 this season, the SaberCats have strung together 12 victories in a row and are 6-0 in their history against Columbus/Buffalo. The Destroyers moved from New York to Ohio in 2004.

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On Docsports.com, San Jose is a 6 1/2 -point favorite over Columbus and --260 on the money line. If a bettor wanted to wager on San Jose without surrendering any points to Columbus, he would have to bet $260 to win $100. The Destroyers are +220.

The over/under for the total combined score in the game is 115.5 points. In the five playoff games the two teams have played this season, they have exceeded that number on three occasions.

After qualifying as a wild card with a 7-9 regular-season record in the National Conference, Columbus has had an improbable run to the title game. It won three consecutive games on the road to reach this point.

The Destroyers, who fell at San Jose, 68-47, in their last meeting on May 13, 2006, also have this bit of history on their side. Chicago, which won the ArenaBowl last season, also was 7-9 before rolling through the playoffs.

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July has been all about streaks for Arizona.

The Diamondbacks, who began the month by losing seven of eight, then followed with another run of five losses in six games, have turned things around, rattling off eight wins in a row.

The streak could come crashing to a halt today as the Diamondbacks try to complete a sweep of visiting Atlanta.

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Livan Hernandez is scheduled to pitch for Arizona, the main reason why the visiting Braves are favored.

Hernandez, who won his first game since May 27 by defeating Florida, 9-3, on Tuesday, is 3-14 lifetime against Atlanta. The veteran right-hander has more losses against the Braves than any other team.

Meanwhile, Tim Hudson, who will start for Atlanta, has been very effective against Arizona. He is 3-0 with an earned-run average of 1.91 against the Diamondbacks.

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bob.mieszerski@latimes.com


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