The Brewers finally dropped a game last night, losing 8-7 in a thriller to the Cards, pulling St. Louis back within two games of the lead. It appears we may be in for a race in the NL Central; albeit one that likely will not include the first-half darling Pirates.
The Buccos got thumped, again, by the hapless Cubs, sinking them to six games off the pace and fading fast. The same can be said of the Atlanta Braves, whose loss last night dropped them a full eight games back of the Phillies. Atlanta fans, however, need not feel the same despair; the wildcard lead is still safely tucked away for Atlanta, and barring a meltdown, they appear to be Playoff-bound.
The division races are heating up, so let’s see if we can keep up our recent winning ways and get to today’s free picks.
TODAY’S MLB PICKS:
Cleveland Indians +160 @ Boston Red Sox -180 (Total: 10.5)
C. Carrasco (8-9, 4.67) vs. T. Wakefield (6-4, 5.06)
The wheels have come off in Cleveland since their incredibly hot start that had some fans at the Jake believing this team was closer to “back” then they appear to actually be. Some fans can remember back to the mid/late 90’s when the Tribe was one of the hottest tickets in sports… some pitchers can too. Boston’s Tim Wakefield, the ageless knuckleballer will attempt to become the oldest pitcher to earn his 200th victory; just a few days removed from his 45th birthday.
While the age jokes are entertaining, there does have to be some legitimate concern as to whether or not Wakefield has enough in the tank to go much longer. He has posted a 6.50 ERA over his last three starts, bringing his season ERA over 5. Runners haven’t had much trouble reaching base either, as his WHIP has ballooned to a robust 1.50 per inning.
Carasco hasn’t fared much better of late (and doesn’t have “hell, I AM 45 years old” to fall back on as an excuse). His issue has been difficulty located pitches effectively, and the batters have taken advantage of it; both drawing walks and hitting him hard in his last three starts. Carasco has posted an enormous 7.33 ERA and gone a predictable 0-3 in those starts (WHIP of 1.63).
Boston is not a ballpark you want to visit or a lineup you want to face when you are struggling on the mound. Three of the top five MVP candidates in the American League call Fenway home and that isn’t even mentioning Ortiz, Youkalis and the rest of the lineup.
Boston is on fire, winning 12 of 15 and 37 of 52 overall. They have played fairly even with the Tribe over the last three seasons, but are playing at a level that far exceeds their ball clubs of 2010 and 2009.
These guys can score run all night, and that’s exactly what they are going to do tonight. I don’t like laying the juice at -180, but do like the value of a runline wager at even money (+100).
Chicago Cubs -115 @ Pittsburgh Pirates -105 (TOTAL: 8 )
M. Garza (4-8, 3.99) vs. C. Morton (8-6, 4.04)
Oh to be Vegas, right? While the outcome of this game cannot ever be predicted with absolute certainty (though I like to think we do an above-average job of it here at thesportsgeek.com), there is one winner absolutely guaranteed tonight; the house. No matter which side you lean towards tonight, the house is taking in some juice, nothing rare about that in a grander sports wagering picture, but it is a little unique with baseball.
Regardless, just because the house is winning doesn’t mean we can’t too, so let’s start first with tonight’s pitching matchup. Matt Garza hasn’t lived up to the advanced billing in his first season in the senior circuit, but probably hasn’t been as bad as his 4-8 record indicates. His ERA has finally dipped under 4.00, and his control has been much better in recent starts. Over his last six starts, his ERA has been a respectable 3.68, however he has gotten a meager eight runs (an average of 1.33) of support to back him up.
The Cubs bats have shown signs of life, perhaps not coincidentally, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are actually healthy at the same time for a change and young Starlin Castro has blossomed into a legit All-Star for the foreseeable future. The tagged the Pirates for 16 runs in the first two games of the series, and get perhaps their most favorable pitching matchup of the series tonight with righty Charlie Morton.
Morton, like much of the Pirate staff, has shown signs of coming back to Earth a little bit over the last month. In his last three starts Morton has lasted just a total of 14.1 innings and has an astronomical WHIP of 2.02. It’s hard to win many games with two runners on base every single inning!
I like the Cubs to stay hot tonight and continue Morton’s recent woes; finishing off a simply devastating sweep of the surprisingly-contending Pirates. Have no fear Pittsburgh, your 19 year run of futility may not have come to a conclusion quite yet…