What a strange turn of events last night’s game was. We backed the Seattle Mariners as small road favorites against the San Diego Padres. The big question mark in this game was Mariner’s starter, Felix Hernandez. Would King Felix be able to continue his dominance in San Diego? A place that he has never lost in nine starts? Well, I guess the answer is yes and no. Hernandez made what turned out to be his best start in months as he pitched seven innings of two-run ball and struck out nine Padres.
The problem for the Mariners wasn’t Hernandez’s arm, it was his bat. Felix came up to bat in the third and the fifth inning, both times with two runners on base, and both times managed to bunt into a double play. It is really hard to bunt into a double play, and the King did it twice in the course of two consecutive at-bats. Those double baggers killed off the Mariners best scoring opportunities, and despite the fact that Hernandez finally pitched well, they couldn’t score, and the Mariners lost the game, and we lost our bet.
It was a frustrating game to watch as the Mariners had ample scoring opportunities as they pounded out eight hits on rookie pitcher Joe Nix, but they just couldn’t string them together enough to put runs on the board. With the loss, the Mariners continue their slow slide out of playoff contention and fall to five and a half games behind the Oakland A’s for the final playoff spot in the American League. For today’s pick, I will check in on the series between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Washington Nationals are in Philadelphia Wednesday for game three of a three-game series with the Phillies. The Nats have taken the first two games of the series and are hoping for a sweep tonight in the finale. Last night’s loss was particularly painful for the Phillies as they wasted another spectacular performance from Aaron Nola when the bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth inning to blow the save and cost Nola the win. Despite managements best efforts of tanking recently, the Nationals are creeping back into the playoff chase as they are just six games back of the wild card in the National League with the win.
Starting for the Nationals is Gio Gonzalez (7-11 4.35 ERA), and for the Phillies, it is Jake Arrieta (9-9 3.37 ERA). The Phillies are -128 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Citizen’s Bank Ballpark in Philly.
The Washington Nationals have been dumping players left and right. They made a couple of moves before the trade deadline and made a couple more moves on waiver this week. Washington management isn’t going to let this little three-game winning streak get in the way of their rebuilding process as they are rumored to be making a couple more moves before the September 1st roster deadline.
Teams can make as many trades as they want down the stretch through the waiver process, but unless those moves are made by September 1st, those new players can’t be on the playoff roster. One rumor that keeps coming up is that tonight’s starter, Gio Gonzalez may be making his last ever start for the Nationals.
Gio was one of the best pitchers in the National League through May, but the wheels have completely come off since then. After winning nine of his first thirteen starts with an ERA in the low two-run range, Gonzalez has really struggled in the summer months. In August he is just 1-4 with a 6.84 ERA. The Nationals have lost eleven out of his last thirteen starts. It remains to be seen whether or not Gio gets moved but with the way he is pitching I’m not sure a contending team even wants him at this point.
Philly will look to Jake Arietta to salvage one game of this series. Arietta hasn’t been his normal dominant self in August. He hasn’t pitched all that bad, his ERA is 3.60. But the Phillies have lost each of his four starts in August. This was hard to see coming as in July he was really good. In July, Arrieta went 4-0 in six starts with a 2.40 ERA, and the Phillies went 6-0.
There seems to be two different Jake Arrieta’s this year. The Jake Arrieta at home and the Jake Arrieta on the road. His ERA is a full run lower on the season when he pitches at home. The has been the case for many of these Philly players as the Phillies have the second-best home winning percentage in the National League.
This number opened at Philly -135 and is slowly moving towards the Nationals. And I say let it move! Yeah, this Phillies team is mired in a nasty slump right now, but teams can snap out of those quickly and what better way to snap out of a bad run than to have your recent Cy Young Award-winning pitcher on the mound in your home ballpark.
I just can’t pass up on getting to bet against Gio Gonzalez and this depleted Nats lineup. They pulled off the miracle last night to steal game two, but I see them coming up short tonight in game three. I think the Phillies tag Gio and Arrieta will do plenty to put this one away. Give me the Philadelphia Phillies as small home favorites at -128 tonight in game three!