Thurday's Game Four
By: Willie Bee
It took 16 innings and a pair of extra-inning homers from Matt Adams, but we got our OVER and the St. Louis Cardinals finally stopped their 3-game losing skid against the Cincinnati Reds.
The victory helped the Cardinals pull back to within a game of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the top of the NL Central, also a little extra cushion between them and the Reds who are 3.5 behind the Bucs. St. Louislooks to earn a split in the set Thursday when the clubs close out the series under the lights at GreatAmerican Ball Park.
Cincinnati turns to rookie Tony Cingrani in hopes of taking the series three games to one, and the Reds are carrying chalk in the upper -130s to do just that. Lance Lynn opposes Cingrani and the Redlegs, the 8 run total juiced a little more to the UNDER at most shops charted by SBR's live MLB odds.
Cingrani Rejoins Reds Rotation Off Short DL Stint
August was unkind to Lynn for a second consecutive season. He lost his spot in the St. Louis rotation a year ago due to a 6.28 ERA in five starts, and posted a 5.84 ERA in six August assignments this time around. Lynn was able to fight back and return to the starting mix last September when he won four straight starts to end the regular season.
St. Louis was 2-4 behind Lynn last month, but one of the victories was a solid performance in 15-2 win at Cincinnati (8 IP, 11 K). The former Ole Miss standout is a perfect 3-0 vs. the Reds in 2013 with a 2.67 ERA, and the Cards have won all four of his tries against Dusty Baker's bunch.
Cingrani has spent the last couple of weeks on the DL due to back issues, last pitching Aug. 20 vs. the Diamondbacks and suffering the loss in the eventual 5-2 decision. A 3rd-round pick in 2011 out of Rice, Cingrani split his four August assignments with a 2.25 ERA, one of the victories coming against the Cardinals at home on Aug. 3, his only career start vs. St. Louis. The southpaw worked around five walks in his five innings, allowing all three Redbird runs in the 8-3 final.
Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick
One circuit through the umpire rotation will be completed Thursday when Laz Diaz takes up his position behind the dish. Diaz brings a 16-11-2 O/U/P mark into the game, his first plate assignment of 2013 atGreat American Ball Park. He did work a Reds road game about a month ago in Milwaukee where Cingrani outdueled Kyle Lohse in a 2-1 UNDER.
Another nice evening is in store for the fans at the park, which has only been about half-full the last two nights despite the importance of this series. Clear skies and the mid-70s is the forecast for the start of the game, with a light NNE breeze (out to right).
St. Louis has not fared well against lefthanders this season (16-21), and will be missing a key right-handed power stick in the lineup with Allen Craig on his way back home to have a doc check his left foot that was injured in Wednesday's game. for my baseball picks, I like the Reds in this one, and will take it a step further with a free play on the run line.
My pick: Reds -1.5 (+155) at Bet365
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
The bats have suddenly gone quiet for the St. Louis Cardinals who were shut out for the third time in six games on Tuesday night. Two of those whitewashings have been delivered by the Cincinnati Reds who aim for their fourth consecutive win over the Redbirds this evening.
If the numbers poste at most online baseball betting shops are any indication, Cincinnati makes it four straight. Bronson Arroyo is up next in the rotation for the Reds who are playing the role of small home chalk around -120 on the morning MLB odds. Rookie Shelby Miller is tasked with helping the Cardinals pull out of their funk, and the 8 run total is priced to the OVER.
Neither offense had much going in Cincinnati's 1-0 victory last night. A seventh inning double by Todd Frazier plated rookie Billy Hamilton for the game's only run. Hamilton was making his MLB debut as a pinch-runner, and swiped his first big league bag after stealing 395 the past five seasons in the minors.
Check out our Wednesday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Can Arroyo Bounce Back From Whipping?
In a word, yes. Arroyo struggled last Friday at Coors Field, a 9-6 loss in which he allowed the Rockies to grab a 6-2 lead before sending him to the showers in the fourth. That stopped a 4-game win streak for the him and the Reds, and left him with a 1-3 mark the last four times in Denver with an 8.46 ERA.
Arroyo has been a cash machine at Great American Ball Park with the Reds 12-4 in his 16 assignments, and Cincinnati backers are 16-11 overall (+4.2 units).
Miller is enjoying an excellent rookie campaign, though it has slowed a bit with the Cards dropping four of his last seven assignments. The Houston native is also coming off a bit of a beating in a 5-0 setback at Pittsburgh last Friday, but did top Arroyo and the Reds on this mound a little more than a month ago. St. Louis had plenty of offense in that game, a 13-3 win with Arroyo allowing seven runs in his 3.2 innings while Miller surrendered all three scores for the Reds in five frames.
Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick
Fans and sports bettors who like offense should be in love with tonight's plate ump. Tim Timmons is working on a string of six consecutive OVERS to run his season record to 19-7-1 O/U/P. This is his first game in Cincinnati this year, but third time to call a Reds game, splitting the previous two in Oakland (U June 26) and Milwaukee (O Aug. 18).
Weather will not present any trouble this evening with a game-time temp around 76º under clear skies. What little breeze there is comes from the WSW (1B to LF corner).
You can't keep either of these lineups down for long, and that is why the OVER is a very easy free pick for me tonight.
My pick: Cardinals-Reds Over 8 (-115)
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Should the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds face off in the NL Wild Card contest, one can't help but wonder if Redbirds manager Mike Matheny might be reluctant to send Adam Wainwright to the mound.
Wainwright suffered a second straight pounding from the Reds in Monday's series opener, and the end result was St. Louis losing a share of the NL Central lead. The Cardinals now turn to rookie Michael Wacha to even the series in Game 2. Homer Bailey starts for Cincinnati at -150. Tuesday's MLB odds also include 8-8.5 run totals.
The Reds scored early and often in Monday's 7-2 triumph, slapping a couple of homers among their 10 hits during Wainwright's six innings. His last two starts have come against Cincinnati with a combined eight innings and 15 runs allowed. Meanwhile the Reds moved to 4-1 in Mat Latos' five assignments vs. St. Louis this season.
Bailey Off Scoreless Outing In St. Louis Last Week
Wacha will once again follow Wainwright to the mound, though with his own start this time. St. Louis' 1st-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2012 relieved Wainwright last Wednesday against the Reds, tossing four shutout frames while striking out seven. That was his sixth consecutive appearance out of the 'pen after starting his first four MLB games, and we'll see how his electric fastball fares against Cincinnati hitters.
Bailey started that 10-0 rout vs. Wainwright, toiling into the eighth to pick up his ninth win of 2013 and the Reds' fifth in his last six assignments. He lost his previous two starts vs. the Cards, both in St. Louis where the Redbirds got to him for 11 runs and four homers in the combined 10.1 frames, and the victory snapped a 4-game losing streak for Cincy with the righty on the bump vs. the Cardinals.
A former 1st-round pick himself -- 7th overall in 2004 -- Bailey's home/road splits are fairly even if you only look at ERA. At Great American Ball Park, a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts compared to 3.61 on the road, but his secret has been limiting baserunners (1.06 WHIP at home, 1.27 away) and long balls (5/12), the difference in the Reds going 7-5 when Bailey pitches in Cincinnati opposed to 6-9 out of town.
Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick
Wearing #89 on your umpire scorecard is Cory Blaser, expected to work the dish Tuesday with a 16-11 O/U tendency in 2013 and owner of a consistent strike zone from my seat in front of the TV. The weather forecast probably couldn't be any better; clear skies, 72º at first pitch and a light north breeze (out to right).
For the record, home favorites in this price range are 0-4 with Blaser behind the plate, but with the uncertainty of Yadier Molina (wrist) and Carlos Beltran (back) being in the St. Louis lineup, I'm going with the Reds for my free pick.
My pick: Reds -155 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
It's understandable for sports fans and bettors to be locked in on the pigskin right now, coming down from the college football's kickoff weekend and preparing for the start of the NFL season this week. But save a little time, energy and bankroll for baseball that promises excitement the next four weeks to wind up the 2013 regular season.
In fact, if you've only got the time (and money) to follow one MLB series this week, my pick would be to pay attention to the series in Cincinnati between the Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. The longtime National League rivals are locked in a tight race in the Central Division along with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and all three teams seem destined for the postseason. Problem is two will have to square off in the one-game wild card play-in, and it should lend a bit of a playoff atmosphere to all of their remaining games in hopes of avoiding that single elimination scenario.
Not to mention, this rivalry hasn't cooled a bit since Tony La Russa left the top step of the Cardinals dugout. Cincinnati skipper Dusty Backer has kept the heat on St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and his squad, so don't be surprised to see that continue.
We also get to see two of their top pitchers square off in the opener of the 4-game series Monday (1:10 PM ET). Mat Latos and the Redlegs opened -120 on the MLB odds in the match vs. Adam Wainwright, and that moneyline has been chopped down into the low-to-mid 110s following overnight action. Monday's scoreboard hurdler has been set at 7.5 runs.
St. Louis stopped a 3-game slide on Sunday with a win at Pittsburgh to move back into a tie for first with the Bucs in the NL Central. That 3-game losing streak started at home last Wednesday in a 10-0 shelling by the Reds, who then went on to Colorado and closed out their road trip by dropping two of three to the Rockies. The Reds now begin a 10-game homestand that has the Dodgers and Cubs trailing the Cards into Porkopolis, and Cincy knows this could be the last chance to gain on St. Louis in the final regular season meeting between the clubs.
Will Latos & Wainwright Repeat April Duel?
There's no question that Wainwright and Latos are two of the game's best hurlers, but each has had his share of troubles over the years with today's opposition. Latos has performed well vs. St. Louis this season with the Reds 3-1 in his four assignments to go with a 2.52 ERA, but he owns a 6.25 career ERA against the Cardinals and has struggled mightily when several Redbird hitters are in the box.
Wainwright was hammered in last week's 10-zip rout after two fine outings vs. Cincinnati this season. His 4.84 career ERA against the Reds includes getting bested by the likes of Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips along the way.
Both hurlers were on their games when they faced off on April 29 in St. Louis. Latos ended up with the dubya as the road underdog, tossing six shutout innings in the 2-1 win, while Wainwright suffered the tough-luck defeat with a 7-IP, 2 ER linescore.
Recent Trend To The Over In Cincinnati
The Cards have already won the regular season series from the Reds by taking 10 of the first 15 contests. Cincy owns a slight 44-42 edge at Great American Ball Park since it opened in 2003, but a more dominant trend recently has been the OVER on this diamond, 5-1 so far this season and 8-1 the last nine clashes.
Warm and muggy is today's forecast, along with a 30% chance of a t-storm interrupting the proceedings at some point. The rest of the week looks fine, but always keep an eye on Mother Nature before going to the window.
This contest, both on the moneyline and total, is all but a coin flip for me. We could very well see Latos and Wainwright hook up in a duel, and we could easily see one or both offenses have a big day. But when push comes to shove, getting Wainwright as the underdog is too tempting for me to pass up for my free pick.My pick: Cardinals +102 at Bet365