MLB Picks: Cardinals vs. Phillies Final

Willie Bee

Sunday, April 21, 2013 3:29 PM GMT

Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013 3:29 PM GMT

Don't you hate it when there's more star power in the broadcast booth for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball than there is on the mound for actual game?

That's the case for this week's contest in Philadelphia where the Phillies host the St. Louis Cardinals for the conclusion of their 4-game set.  Orel Hershiser and John Kruk will support Dan Shulman for the telecast as the Phils look to gain a split in the series.

Meanwhile down on the mound, it will be Jake Westbrook toiling for the visiting Cards opposite Kyle Kendrick.  St. Louis is priced as the -115 road favorite for the finale with the MLB odds sporting an 8.5 run total that is evenly split high and low.

St. Louis moved ahead in the series behind Lance Lynn's performance in Game 3 on Saturday, a 5-0 St. Louis triumph.  It was easily Lynn's best performance of the year, and the worst for Philly's Cliff Lee, while Carlos Beltran homered for the third consecutive game to help fire the Redbirds lineup.

The victory helped the Cardinals remain just ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in a tightly-bunched NL West race.  Philadelphia, beaten for the sixth time in eight matches, dropped 6.5 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

Redbirds Have Offensive Edge Over Phils

Philadelphia and St. Louis are pretty even in several offensive columns, such as home runs where the Cards have 15 and the Phils 13.  The two squads are also close to each other in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, and rank near the bottom of the National League in drawing walks.

Despite those similarities, the Cardinals have a huge advantage in the all-important scoring column where St. Louis ranks fourth in the senior circuit plating 5.3 runs per game.  Philadelphia is fourth from the bottom at 3.5 RPG.

The Phillies hope to have Ryan Howard's bat in the lineup Sunday night after the big first baseman missed the last two games with a groin pull.  Howard is 2-for-5 lifetime vs. Westbrook who has struggled against Michael Young (11-for-27) over the years.

Westbrook Catches Break To Keep ERA At 0.00

Just one unearned run is on Westbrook's personal ledger in two starts covering nearly 16 innings.  But that 0.00 ERA masks some control issues for the righthander who has walked 10 batters while striking out four, and he was roughed up this past Tuesday in Pittsburgh where the Pirates plated four in the opening frame of a game eventually rained out.

Westbrook has split his four starts vs. the Phils since joining the Cards in 2010, going 1-1 here at Citizens Bank Park (11 IP, 2 ER).

Kendrick is coming off a solid outing at Cincinnati on Tuesday when he blanked the Reds on two hits over seven innings.  That contest was suspended with a 0-0 score in the ninth, and Kendrick didn't figure into the decision that went 1-0 in Cincy's favor.  his only appearance vs. St. Louis last season resulted in a complete-game shutout, the only one of his career.

The weatherman doesn't have any rain in his forecast, but is calling for a crisp evening in Philadelphia with the temp in the low-50s at first pitch before dropping into the 40s during the contest.  Greg Gibson will be making his third assignment behind the plate after his previous two contests both failed to reach the total.  The OVER was 19-13 in the 16-year veteran's games a year ago.

[gameodds]3/225341/1096-1593-1537-19-999996/us[/gameodds]

I've had zero luck following the Phillies this season, going 0-4 when backing Charlie Manuel's men.  I'll avoid a fifth loss on them tonight by simply making a play on the total that I don't think will be reached.

My pick:Cardinals-Phillies Under 8.5 (-105) at 5Dimes

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