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Giants at Cardinals – Free Pick NLCS Game Three

San Francisco Giants +113 at St. Louis Cardinals -122 (Total: 7)

Matt Cain vs. Kyle Lohse

Much of the talk regarding this series has focused on Matt Hollday’s late (very slide) into Marco Scutaro in an attempt to break up a double play early in Game Two.  Scutaro was banged up on the play, but isn’t expected to miss anytime, but more importantly than the injury was the sudden awakening of the Giants’ bats.  They exploded offensively en route to a 7-1 win and evened the series at a game apiece.

I don’t believe baseball is a game of emotion the same way football and basketball are, but there does seem to have been a galvanizing effect from the Holliday slide.  Will it carry over into Game Three?  Well, as many wise baseball pundits have often remarked, “momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher.”  So let’s begin there with the analysis of tonight’s pivotal game and see if we can extend our four game baseball winning streak on TheSportsGeek.com.

The Giants have their ace pitching tonight, facing off against the Cardinals ace.  Due to extended NLDS series, this Game Three pitching matchup has feel of a Game One matchup, and I expect scoring to be pretty tight.  Cain hasn’t been as sharp as usual this postseason, but there still aren’t many pitchers (the immortal Justin Verlander excepted) who I’d rather have on the mound in a big game.  His last two starts he gave up three runs each, but both of those were against the Cincinnati Reds.  In the five games prior, he never allowed more than two, and pitched quality starts (two scoreless outings) in all five games.

He has fared rather poorly against St. Louis this season.  In his two starts he has allowed nine runs in just 11.2 innings.  He will have to pitch better tonight if the Giants hope to beat Kyle Lohse.

Lohse has been simply awesome for the Cardinals all season long.  The attention all goes to Caprenter and Wainwright, but Lohse has clearly emerged as the ace of this staff.  He was 17-3 on the season with a 2.86 ERA and a dazzling WHIP of just 1.07 (Cain’s was 1.05 – so a pretty evenly daunting day for hitters).  The interesting thing about Lohse’s record; though he only suffered three losses all season, the team was just 22-13 in games he pitched.  The Giants with Cain?  A nearly identical 22-12.

These two have nearly identical records, nearly identical ERAs, and nearly identical WHIPs.  The Giants have a slightly better and more rested bullpen.  The Cardinals have a slightly better offense.  So who has the edge today?  Mother nature.  With the 3pm CST start, expect shadows to wreak havoc for the batters.  Both of these pitchers don’t let many people on base to begin with.  Mix in some mid-afternoon shadows and we can be in for a real pitcher’s duel.  I expected this total to be 6.5.  Most every sportsbook has it at 7.  I love the extra half run for free.  Take the under and enjoy some tense postseason baseball.

Free Pick:  Run TOTAL UNDER 7 (-110)