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Reds at Giants – Free Pick NLDS Game Two

Cincinnati Reds +140 at San Francisco Giants -149 (Total: 8) – NLDS Game Two

Bronson Arroyo vs. Madison Baumgarner

The Cincinnati Reds took early control of the series with an impressive win last night.  The circumstances couldn’t have been much worse for the Reds.  They lost their staff ace, Johnny Cueto, to an injury (ehich turned out to be just back spasms) in just the second batter in the first inning.  They had to scramble, reaching to long reliever Sam Lecure to throw 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before passing the ball to their “other” ace, Game Three projected starter Mat Latos, who pitched fantastic.

If it sounds convoluted, it certainly could have been, were it not for a pair of home runs from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce that carried the Reds to a huge Game One win over Matt Cain in San Francisco.  What started as a disaster now looks rosy; Johnny Cueto will get the ball in Game Three, Mat Latos is perfectly fine for a Game Five (if necessary – I don’t think it will be), and the Reds can all but shut the door on San Fran if wily veteran Bronson Arroyo delivers tonight.

It won’t be easy for the Reds.  The Giants know tonight is a must-win, and Madison Baumgarner has been fantastic all season.  He enters with a 16-11 record and a 3.37 ERA with an even more impressive 1.11 WHIP (top ten in the league).  He will certainly feel confident facing the Reds tonight.  His only meeting against the Reds this season was a dominating complete-game one-hitter.  However, in his only three other meetings, all in 2011 or 2010, he lost all three starts, allowing 13 runs in 13 2/3 innings.

The Giants are big favorites tonight, but I don’t feel comfortable laying -150 to back them.  Bronson arroyo has made a career out of being better than people expect.  If you just look at his stuff, it’s hard to believe he is a big league pitcher.  His style is sort of R.A. Dickey meets Harris from Major League.  He mixes it up, throws some funky stuff up there, tops out around 88 mph… and somehow at the the end of the game the Reds have a chance to win and the score is almost always lower than expected.  In fact, the UNDER is 21-8 in Arroyo’s 29 starts this season.

I like the value play of the Reds at +140, but my official pick tonight is UNDER 8.  I like both pitchers to fare well, and for Cincinnati’s bullpen to do what they do so well – keep the game right where it is.  I also like Baumgarner to pitch well and stymie the Reds already strikeout-prone lineup.

Free Pick:  Run TOTAL UNDER 8 (-105)