St. Louis Cardinals -105 @ Florida Marlins -105 (Total: 8.5)
K. Lohse (9-7, 3.33) vs. C. Hensley (1-3, 3.09)
The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have gotten a lot of attention this week, but it’s been more for their beanball antics and press conferences than their play on the field. On the field, things are getting a little less optimistic after losing a decisive three game series to division leading Milwaukee. With the 1-2 trip, the Cards now sit 3 ½ games back in the division.
Tonight they hand the ball to the underrated Kyle Lohse to get them back on track. Lohse has been solid all year, but has really struggled against the Marlins, posting a 6.58 ERA against them in his last seven starts, including giving up 11 runs in 11 innings so far this season in Miami.
The Marlins are a team of extremes, lengthy losing streaks (one 12-gamer in particular) knocked them from division contention, but behind their excellent front-line pitching they have clawed back to .500. They have won 8 of 10, and have been playing excellent ball since the All Star break.
I like a lower scoring affair tonight, but feel like the 8.5 number is just a about right. Looking at each team’s last ten games, they are both in that 4-5 run range more often than not, so playing the total tonight might be a little dicey.
Instead, I like the Fish at home tonight getting a nice performance from Clay Hensley who is beginning to look very comfortable and in control on the mound. His WHIP is under 1.00 for his last 4 starts, which is a nice way to control a game and win a lower-scoring contest.
FREE PICK: Florida Marlins TO WIN -105
Philadelphia Phillies -135 @ San Francisco Giants +125 (TOTAL: 6.5)
C. Lee (10-7, 3.14) vs. M. Bumgarner (6-10, 3.80)
I made the mistake of doubting Cliff Lee last week, and he shook of the temporary fog he’d been under and reverted to the Cliff Lee of June and postseason’s past dominance. Tonight, he gets the ball out by the Bay to exact a small amount of revenge for last year’s NLCS defeat. Not that Cliff Lee was hurling for the Phillies in the NLCS – but he did feel the same sting a week later when the Rangers were dispatched of quickly in the World Series.
Lee’s numbers over his last three starts are pretty pedestrian; 0-1 record with a 5.60 ERA. His counterpart tonight, Madison Bumgarner has won two of his last three starts, but has done it largely with some good run support and one of the best bullpens in baseball shutting the door behind him. His 4.12 ERA is nothing to celebrate, but then again, very few traditional statistics seem to lend much credence to the Giants’ success.
I like good teams at home who are plus-money as a rule, and that is the case tonight with the Giants. Philly seems to have gotten an offensive spark from the addition of Hunter Pence, but is still hitting around .253 as a team. Now, put that team in cavernous PacBell (or whatever they call it now…), and you can see why the runline is so low tonight.
The 6.5 total literally SCREAMS at you… but I’m cautious of it. Cliff Lee has been hit or miss the last five weeks and Baumgarner is 6-10 with an ERA approaching 4.00. Instead, I’m putting my money of the world champs tonight at home, kicking off what promised to be a fantastically entertaining and watchable series full off dynamic pitching matchups.
FREE PICK: San Francisco Giants TO WIN +125