Our MLB winning streak was snapped yesterday with the Reds 6-5 extra-inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds first and only win all week, but the league’s worst bullied TRIED so hard to help us notch another winning day. They gave up the lead in the 7th. They gave up the lead in the 8th. They gave up the lead in the 9th. Three blown saves en route to a “win” by the beleaguered bullpen. I’m not claiming to be Elias Sports Bureau here, but that has to be a relatively infrequent occurrence.
In more important goings-on, the Nationals capped off an impressive weekend sweep of the Cardinals IN St. Louis with Max Scherzer hurling seven shutout innings with only four hits and no walks allowed and nine punchouts. It was a dominating performance in a dominating series where the Nationals outscored the Cardinals by a combined 17-6. In a “baseball is crazy” reminder, in the three games before these the Nats were swept by Philly, who was historically inept in 2015, by a combined score of 10-3 with 22 consecutive scoreless innings from the offense…
By the way, the Phillies have now won six straight and are a staggering 15-10. Are they for real? Well, they are 9-1 over their last ten, but keep in mind this team nearly lost 100 games the last two years and still owns a -16 run differential… I think they are better than many expected, but still am ready to ride a hard fade as the regress to a somewhat inevitable mean.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Colorado Rockies -112 at San Diego Padres +106 (Total: 7.5)
Jon Gray (0-0, 11.38 ERA) vs. James Shields (0-4, 3.55 ERA)
“Big Game” James is in big time need of a win. The Padres venerable starter probably deserves a slightly better fate than he has received so far this season, but the fact still remains, it is MAY and James does not have a win. I know I have taken some shots at the “Big Game James” moniker over the last few years (an accurate critique given empirical postseason stats) but he is still an above average major league starter and is also plenty good at home. He has allowed eight runs in three home starts, all quality starts, but does need to locate a bit better, having allowed seven walks against 17 strikeouts.
He struggled a bit in his last start at Colorado, but again, AT Colorado. So probably not a big concern. I expect him to be solid tonight against a lineup that tends to shrink once they get off an airplane for a road trip.
Opposing Shields is Jon Gray. And if we are going to discount a poor Shields outing at Coors, it is only fair to be generous with Gray as well. Sure, he has a double-digit ERA, but it is just two starts and they were both at his home launching pad. He will likely enjoy his first start this season away from home, especially at pitcher-friendly Petco.
But he is still the lesser starting hurler tonight and at a disadvantage against Shields. I like getting a pitcher with a bad record but good overall numbers at home against a young pitcher who hasn’t sniffed success yet in 2015 (his career ERA including last year’s nine starts is still 6.57 ERA).
There’s pretty good value tonight for San Diego at slight plus money.