Thurday's Game Four
By: Willie Bee
All it took was one swing of the bat to change what had been a pitchers duel between the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals into a rout. In the end, St. Louis fans went home unhappy for the second night in a row while the D-Backs wrapped up honors in the season series with the Cards.
I should say the regular-season series between these two teams since every indication is the clubs stand a good chance of meeting up again come October. The Snakes and Redbirds will officially close things for now with Thursday's series finale at Busch Stadium where St. Louis is a -175 to -180 favorite to snap a mini 2-game skid.
Game 4's mound battle will initially be carried out by Ian Kennedy and Shelby Miller, with the MLB odds board listing 7.5 for the total and priced to the UNDER.
Paul Goldschmidt broke open a tight contest with a grand slam in the seventh on Wednesday, his second slam in five games, to help push the Diamondbacks to a 10-3 triumph. It was Arizona's fourth win in six games against the Cardinals this year, giving the D-Backs their first season-series over St. Louis since 2007.
Kennedy will try and add to the number and keep the Rockies at least 2.5 games behind Arizona in the NL West race. The former Southern Cal star beat the Cardinals in the season opener on April 1, and has split his two career starts at Busch, working six innings and allowing three earned runs each time.
Miller earned his sixth win of the campaign last Saturday in an 8-0 silencing of the Giants, and will be facing the Diamondbacks for the first time in his young career. The Houston native has allowed just three runs in 34.1 innings at home where the Cards are 4-1 in his five assignments.
St. Louis' forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms like the one that forced a delay to the start of Game 3. That should take place in the afternoon, however, and the skies should be clear by the start of the game with temps in the low-to-mid 70s and a 10-12 mph NW wind blowing across the field from left to right.
Angel Hernandez is up for the umps in the series finale, meaning all bets are off as far as knowing what to expect for the strike zone. Nine of his 13 plate assignments have skipped past the total, including a start by the Cardinals' Miller in San Francisco two months ago.
I like Miller in the matchup and will try and sneak in a run-line victory on the Cardinals with my play in Thursday's series finale.
My pick: Cardinals -1.5 (+125) at Bet 365
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Fans at Busch Stadium got their money's worth with 14 innings of action in Game 2 of the series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the red-clad Redbird backers didn't go home happy as their hometown team went down in defeat after struggling back from a 6-3 deficit.
Overtime in Game 2 will likely result in both managers, Kirk Gibson and Mike Matheny, juggling their lineups for Game 3 to give some players a little rest. While we don't know who those players might be, we do know that Wade Miley will take the mound for the D-Backs against Joe Kelly of the Cards.
MLB odds make St. Louis -140 chalk, or thereabouts, and an 8.5 run total favors the UNDER at most shops.
To say Miley has fallen on tough times would be a big understatement. The southpaw was 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA after beating the Dodgers in LA on May 8; he has since dropped four straight outings while allowing 22 earned runs in 21.2 innings. Arizona is just 2-5 behind Miley on the road this year, though his ERA away from home is more than 2.6 runs lower than in Phoenix.
Miley will be facing the Cardinals for just the second time in his career, the other assignment coming about 13 months ago in Arizona that went into the loss column (5.2 IP, 3 ER).
Kelly gets his first chance to start a game this year following 16 relief appearances. Two of those bullpen calls came in the first series of the season at Chase Field, and the UC-Riverside product served up two long balls and three runs over 2.2 innings. Among his 16 starts in 2012 was a winning effort vs. the D-Backs in St. Louis (6.1 IP, 2 ER).
Paul Nauert will call balls and strikes for a 13th time this campaign; seven of his previous 12 games went OVER, along with one push. It's also be worth watching calls at 1B where Angel Hernandez, one of the worst umps in the business, will be stationed. Another muggy evening with temps in the mid-to-upper 70s is in store for St. Louis. A passing storm or two can't be ruled out, but shouldn't force any cancellation or postponement during the Diamondbacks' only scheduled trip to Busch.
I'd love to come right back with another winning pick on the underdog Diamondbacks, but there's no reason to have any confidence in Miley right now. I'm also unsure of Kelly's arm, along with the fact Matheny has used his top two relievers, Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica, in each of the first two games, both hurling two innings on Tuesday. I'll add the OVER to my MLB picks tonight instead.
My pick: Diamondbacks-Cardinals Over 8.5 (+105) at Bet365
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Game 2 of the set between the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals comes with a disclaimer: My upbringing puts me squarely in the corner of Michael Wacha, and it is always difficult to negotiate on the sports betting front when there is a tug-o-war between one's heart and mind.
Wacha climbs the hill for just his second major league start, and he's pitching to something close to a -170 chalk line for a second straight outing. Tyler Skaggs is being called up to take Brandon McCarthy's slot in the Arizona rotation, and the contest is carrying an 8 run total on the earliest MLB odds which were delayed a bit due to the uncertainty surrounding the Diamondbacks hurler.
Carlos Beltran drove home three runs and Matt Carpenter scored three times to fuel St. Louis' 7-1 victory in Game 1, Beltran's blast in the sixth just sending the contest past the 7.5 run total. The Cardinals' triumph evened the season series at 2-2 with three more to play in Arch City this week.
With a grand total of 35.1 innings of major league experience, Skaggs is the senior half of Tuesday's starting pitcher matchup. Originally called up from Triple-A Reno a week ago for a spot start, the former sandwich between Rounds 1 and 2 of the '09 draft is sticking around after McCarthy's latest injury.
Skaggs tossed six shutout frames last week against a potent Texas lineup, and is squaring off against the Cardinals for the first time in his very young career.
Wacha and I are both former students at Texas A&M, and while that is the only thing we have in common, it is nonetheless a strong connection. The 19th pick in the draft that was conducted just 363 days ago, Wacha splashed down in the majors with an incredible debut last Thursday vs. the Royals, tossing seven 2-hit innings and striking out six. St. Louis won the game with the Aggie earning a no-decision.
Temps in the mid-70s are expected at game time and a light SE breeze is also in the forecast (out to left). Crew chief Dana DeMuth will work the plate for the eighth time this season with five of his previous seven assignments falling short of the total.
My heart will be hoping Wacha tosses a perfect game tonight, but my brain believes he could struggle a bit his second time out in the bigs. My play in Game 2 will be on the underdog Snakes.
My pick: Diamondbacks +154
By: Willie Bee
Neither the Arizona Diamondbacks nor the St. Louis Cardinals were favored to win their respective National League divisions when the 2013 season got underway. But here they are atop the standings entering the third month of the schedule, and ready to collide for four games at Busch Stadium.
The potential playoff preview cranks up Monday evening with St. Louis burdened by -170 chalk on most MLB odds boards in a battle of righthanders. Trevor Cahill is slated for the Diamondbacks against the Cardinals' Lance Lynn, and the baseball betting board is carrying a 7.5 run total that will cost UNDER bettors an extra 10 cents or so.
St. Louis was a +220 choice to win the NL Central while Arizona was expected to trail both Los Angeles and San Francisco in the NL West at +600 back in late-March. Instead, each club owns a 2.5-game cushion at the top of their divisions which both feature a pair of squads tied for second behind the Cards and D-Backs.
The Cardinals just took two of three from the defending champion Giants to build on the best record in the majors (37-19), and Redbird backers are up 12.5 units this season, the second-best return going. Arizona (32-24) finished the weekend by taking the final two games from the Cubs in Chicago, and begin Week 10 with a +7.5 bottom line.
Lynn Takes Mound In Search Of Win No. 8
When you score the second-most runs in the NL and allow the fewest, you're bound to be successful, and that is exactly what the Cardinals are doing right now. St. Louis is pushing 4.77 runners across the plate each contest, trailing only Colorado (4.82), and the pitching staff is sporting a 3.01 ERA which leads both leagues.
Lynn has been a big part of the mound success with a remarkably consistent effort to this point. The Cards are 8-3 in his 11 assignments, and the former Ole Miss star followed up a 3.10 ERA in April with a 2.77 mark in June. He missed facing the Diamondbacks in Arizona earlier this year, but won his only career start against them in 2012 with five shutout innings.
The Diamondbacks have been alternating wins and losses behind Cahill, and if that trend continues, they're due for a defeat on Monday. A 2.88 ERA should have produced better than the 5-6 record Arizona has with Cahill on the mound, but the lineup scored just 10 runs total in the six setbacks.
Cahill was beaten by the Cardinals a couple of months ago, and this will be his third career start in St. Louis with both of the previous outings going into the win columns for the A's in 2010 and Diamondbacks last year.
Snakes Have Never Won A Series At Busch III
Arizona won two of the three games the clubs played in Phoenix to open the season when UNDER bettors were also rewarded twice. The Diamondbacks lost two of three at Busch last year, which is par for the course for the Snake on this field that has seen the Cardinals win 16 of 24.
The closest Arizona has come to winning a series on this field was a 4-game split in 2010, and five of the last eight played in St. Louis fell short of the scoreboard hurdle.
As always, we've got one eye on the doppler radar which is currently showing mostly clear skies over the St. Louis area today and this evening. It will be a bit humid, but otherwise a pleasant evening with the thermometer around 70º for the first pitch and a light easterly breeze (in from right).
Let's start this series off with a play on the two lineups to put up some crooked numbers early against both starters. Check back tomorrow when we continue following this series.
My pick: Diamondbacks-Cardinals Over 7.5 (-105) at Bet 365