When the St. Louis Cardinals made the move to acquire All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason, it was in hopes that he would be the missing piece to get the Cardinals back in the playoffs after a three-year drought. Goldy hasn’t lived up to all of that hype just yet, as he is suffering through one of his worst seasons yet in the majors. But last night when he came up with the base loaded in extra innings, he reminded everyone that he still swings a heavy bat.
Goldschmidt blasted a grand slam home run the other way to break open a 2-2 tie and give the Cardinals a four-run lead in the tenth inning. And as it would turn out, the Cards needed all of those runs as the Pirates put a fight in the bottom of the frame, seeing the tying run get thrown out at the plate before coming up just one run short.
It was one of the more exciting games I have watched this season, and the win was our ninth in our last ten bets. For the Cardinals, they seem to have things figured out as they have come out of the All-Star break on fire and now find themselves just a game and a half behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central Division race.
For Pittsburgh, it is heartbreak again as these guys just can’t catch a break and are prime candidates to hold a fire sale in this last week before the July 31st trade deadline. For today’s pick, we will look to stay hot as we head to San Francisco where the Giants host the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs are in San Francisco Tuesday, trying to find a way to slow down the Giants. The Giants have the best record in baseball in the month of July, going 15-3, and they have all kinds of swagger right now. Not only are the Giants winning nearly every night, they are doing it in dramatic fashion. Last night they scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to come from behind and steal game one from Chicago.
The night before, the G-Men scored in the bottom of the twelfth to win a game against the Mets, and two games before that they walked it off in the bottom of the tenth against New York. This team has a refuse to lose attitude right now, and they are playing great baseball. For Chicago, they have seen their lead in the NL Central all but evaporate, and they are a very pedestrian 9-7 on the month.
Starting for the Giants tonight is Madison Bumgarner (5-7 3.65 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Yu Darvish (3-4 4.46 ERA). The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. The Cubs are -115 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 PM PST from Oracle Park in San Francisco.
Coming into this month, all the talk in the Bay Area was about who would get traded away first. Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith were the sexy names getting tossed around, as well as several other bullpen arms. The Giants were in last place and the season looked like a failure. But what a difference a couple of weeks makes as the Giants are rampaging through the league right now and have gotten back to the right side of .500 and are just two games back of the wild card in the NL.
But, and there is always a but, they still aren’t going to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West Divisional crown. Even with this huge surge, the Giants are still an insurmountable fifteen and a half games back of LA. So, the question for the Giants is, do they derail their rebuilding plans for a shot at a one game playoff?
Most teams would say no, but this Giants franchise is a proud one and they came into this season looking to compete, so it could go either way. Until they make the decision one way or the other, we are going to try and take advantage of this hot streak.
This could very well end up being the last start for Madison Bumgarner in a Giants jersey. And what an ending it would be for the former World Series hero. Bumgarner has been pitching his brains out in the last several weeks. In his last five starts, he has pitched a combined twenty-nine innings and has allowed just five earned runs, while striking out thirty-four batters. The Giants are 4-1 during that stretch.
In July, his ERA is just 1.13 in three appearances. In his last start, he threw a complete game, allowing just one run on five hits. Bumgarner has always been great at home, and this year is no different as his home ERA is nearly a full run lower than his road number. If this is the end for the future Hall of Famer, it comes as he is at the top of his powers and if he does get moved, it will be an end of an era in San Francisco.
Yu Darvish has spent this season going back and forth from being awful to amazing. Coming into this month, his ERA was north of five runs on the season. But even then, it wasn’t all that bad as he has racked up the strikeouts this season, even when he was struggling. And in his last two starts, he has been really good as he has pitched a total of twelve innings and did not give up even a single run.
Despite being very good at times, the Cubs are just 9-11 in hist twenty starts this year. He picked up a winning decision in his last start, but his last winning decision before that came all the way back in April, that is shocking for a guy that hasn’t missed any time due to injury and has been a regular in the Cubs rotation.
How can you not like the Giants as home dogs in this one? MaddyBum is fighting to stay on the only team he has ever played for, and this team refuses to lose right now. Darvish does seem to finally have his act together, and that is somewhat concerning, but this Giants team is just finding a way to win games right now. Maybe it is fate? Maybe it is just baseball’s weird variance? Whatever the case may be, this team is getting the job done right now, and I like them to win again tonight.
I expect Bumgarner to be good, maybe even great, and the Giants will find a way to steal game two at home. It should be lower scoring and tightly contested, but the Giants have been thriving in those situations, so that doesn’t scare me. Give me the San Francisco Giants as home underdogs tonight in game two from Oracle Park!