Giants vs. Braves Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Only three of Braves pitcher Julio Teheran's 87 pitches to the Giants on Saturday were mistakes, but they were the difference in the game as Atlanta dropped its fifth straight game while San Francisco won its fourth straight.
Their brooms on ready, the Giants go for the series sweep Sunday in Atlanta in a 1:35 PM (ET) start at Turner Field. The matchup features a pair of young lefthanders, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Alex Wood of the Braves, and the MLB odds favor the home team. Atlanta is fetching a moneyline around -135 while scoreboard bettors decide on a 7 run total which favors the 'over.'
Teheran only allowed four hits in Game 2 of the set, but three of them left the yard leading off the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings to plate all the runs San Francisco needed in the 3-1 final. Ryan Vogelsong and his bullpen held the Braves to five hits while striking out seven, further frustrating an offense that has scored just 10 runs the last six games.
Bumgarner, Wood Each
Look To End 3-Game Losing Streaks
It was a rough end to April for Bumgarner who closed the month with three successive defeats after the Giants won his first three starts. The Padres were the most recent squad to hand the 24-year-old a loss, San Diego reserve catcher Rene Rivera driving in all five runs his team would score off Bumgarner during his five innings of work.
He has pitched well at Turner Field in four starts, including a 2010 NLDS contest the Giants won. Lifetime in Atlanta, Bumgarner owns a 2.00 ERA and he has held Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward to a combined .129 batting average.
Wood has also lost his last three assignments, though he pitched well enough to win two of them before getting banged around in Miami last Tuesday. The former Georgia Bulldogs star saw his ERA almost double after allowing seven runs in five innings and striking out only two Marlins.
He saw the Giants once last season, and that appearance came out of the bullpen. Three free passes led to two runs scoring in his lone inning on the hill.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Assuming the umpire rotation holds, Alan Porter has the plate for the series finale. Now in his fourth full season at the major league level, Porter has overseen three consecutive 'under' winners after beginning the season with a pair of 'overs.'
It should be a nice sunny day in the ATL, with the thermometer climbing into the mid-80s and an 8-12 mph WNW blow (left to right). I like San Francisco to blow on out of town with the sweep, and will be adding the visiting underdogs to my list of free MLB picks for Sunday.
My pick: Giants +125
Season: 31-32 (-1.9)
Giants vs. Braves Game 2
By: Willie Bee
The Freak was too good for the Atlanta Braves on Friday, and Game 1 of the series at Turner Field went to the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco now looks to extend its winning streak to four while Atlanta aims to stop its skid at the same number when the clubs reconvene for the second of their 3-game set Saturday night (7:10 PM ET). Ryan Vogelsong is next up in the Giants rotation, and the Braves counter with Julio Teheran.
SBR's live MLB odds show Atlanta to be decided chalk in the -170 to -180 range on the moneyline, and the 7.5 run total favors the 'under'.
Tim Lincecum bent but didn't break in Friday's 2-1 San Fran victory. The diminutive righthander had to work around six hits and three walks, but only allowed one run and got all the support he needed on solo homers by Angel Pagan and Michael Morse to spoil Mike Minor's season debut for Atlanta.
Giants Stay Game Up
On Rockies In NL West
Friday's win kept San Francisco in the driver's seat of the NL West, but the margin is only a game over the Rockies who have been matching the Giants in the win column over the last week and a half.
Vogelsong rebounded from a rough outing at Coors Field with a fine performance at home against the Indians this past Sunday. The 36-year-old righthander frustrated the Cleveland lineup with just two hits allowed while striking out six, lowering his ERA to 2.50 at AT&T Park this season.
He has struggled on the road so far, but his lone assignment at Turner Field since rejoining the Giants in 2011 was a good one. Vogelsong surrendered just one run in six innings and whiffed seven, the Giants needing 11 innings before grabbing a 9-4 win in a wild affair that saw the teams combine for 11 runs and four homers after the ninth.
Braves Turn To Teheran To Stop Bleeding
Atlanta's Opening Day hurler, Teheran has been a big part of the rotation's early success with six quality starts that led to five Brave victories. The Colombian could easily be 6-0 at this point with a little help from the bats and gloves, and has been charged with just one run in his last three starts (24 IP).
Teheran is unbeaten in two career assignments vs. the Giants, and tossed six scoreless frames with eight K's against them in Atlanta last June.
It's difficult not to like the Braves in this one with Teheran on the hill, but their offense hasn't been generating much recently and that's the reason I'm adding the 'under' to my list of free MLB picks for Saturday.
My pick: Giants-Braves Under 7.5 (-115)
Season: 30-31 (-1.9)
Giants vs. Braves Game 1
By: Willie Bee
Yeah, sure, it's only the first weekend of May. But is it ever too early to start thinking about potential playoff matchups?
Division leaders collide this weekend in Atlanta where the Braves host the San Francisco Giants. We'll follow this series from start to finish, beginning with Friday's lid-lifter that finds Tim Lincecum on the hill for the G-Men opposite Mike Minor, who is making his season debut in the 7:35 PM (ET) start.
Atlanta is commanding chalk around -150 for the opener, SBR's live MLB odds listing a 7.5 run total the leans to the 'under.'
This has been a pretty even series recently, and dominated by the home team. The Braves have a slight 19-18 advantage the past five seasons, going 12-6 in Atlanta where they are 42-22 vs. San Francisco since Turner Field opened (1997). Three of the four played here in 2013 stayed 'under' the total.
Giants Atop NL West
After Strong April Finish
After a bump in the road near the middle of the month, San Francisco (17-11, +4.8 units, 14-13-1 O/U/P) finished April with a bang. The Giants dropped five of six during a short stretch against the Dodgers, Padres and Rockies, but bounced back by winning six of the next seven, including a sweep of the Indians last weekend at AT&T Park.
Bruce Bochy's lineup is putting up about half a run per game more than last season, checking into this series with a 4.29 RPG clip that ranks fifth in the National League. There has been marked improvement on the mound as well, the staff currently pitching to a 3.24 ERA (5th in NL) after a 4.00 mark in 2013. The bullpen is responsible for most of the latter stat, ranking second in the majors with a 2.05 ERA.
Lincecum is once again struggling, the former 2-time Cy Young winner having just one quality start among his five assignments though the Giants have managed to win four times. The little righty has also served up six long balls in less than 26 innings, a stat that has been on the rise the past two years after being among the stingiest pitchers allowing home runs from 2007-11.
He has not had much luck facing the Braves the past few campaigns despite pitching pretty well. San Francisco has lost four of his last five starts vs. Atlanta -- including the last two at Turner Field -- with Lincecum posting a 3.16 ERA in those outings and limiting the Braves lineup to a .218 average.
Rotation Leads Braves
To Top Of NL East
You can't find a better starting rotation than the one Fredi Gonzalez has in Atlanta (17-10, +7.0 units, 11-15-1 O/U/P). The Braves head into this weekend with a 2.68 overall staff ERA, the starting pitchers sporting a 2.40 mark. The rotation's ERA was much lower prior to Alex Wood and Aaron Harang each getting bombed in Miami on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Marlins completed the sweep Thursday with a 5-4 decision.
Minor will try and slide into his routine without interrupting the great job by the rest of the starters. He missed spring training due to a sore left shoulder, but spent April tuning up for his return to the majors by making six rehab starts, and while the Braves haven't pegged a limit on his pitches for Friday, my guess is 85-90.
He'll be facing the Giants for the fifth time in his career, the Braves having won three of his previous four assignments while the southpaw posted a 2.92 ERA and outstanding 28:4 K/BB ration in almost 25 innings. Michael Morse and Buster Posey have been tough outs for Minor, that pair combining for a .471 average (8-for-17).
The Braves come home from Miami a bit shaken following the broom job by the Fish, and I think facing Lincecum just might be the right medicine to stop the 3-game skid. However, I'm going to get firmly behind the bats in this one with a free MLB pick on the high side of the total.
My pick: Giants-Braves Over 7.5 (+105)
Season: 29-29 (-0.9)