By: Willie Bee
Quieted by St. Louis Cardinals pitchers twice on Saturday, the San Francisco Giants try and avoid a sweep this afternoon behind a pitcher making his first big league start in nearly four years.
St. Louis is a strong favorite to break out the brooms and build on the best record in the majors in the finale of this 3-game set. The Cardinals went out at -160 and the MLB odds still had them in the mid-to-upper -150s Sunday morning. The initial clash on the mound is between San Fran's Chad Gaudin and Redbirds rookie Tyler Lyons, and an 8.5 run total is taxed 15-20 cents to the low side.
Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright were the hometown heroes Saturday when the Cards won both ends of a twinbill made necessary by Friday night's rainout. Miller worked seven scoreless frames in an 8-0 Game 1 blanking of the Giants, and Wainwright went the distance while striking out 10 in a 7-1 nightcap triumph.
Gaudin is stepping into the rotation slot formerly held by Ryan Vogelsong who is out with a broken right hand. The Giants brought Michael Kickham up for one start last week, but are giving Gaudin a shot on Sunday. Primarily a reliever in his 11-year MLB career, Sunday will be Gaudin's first start since Sept. 2009 when he was hurling for the Yankees.
He worked three scoreless innings out of the 'pen vs. the Cardinals when the clubs met in San Francisco back in April, and last saw them in a starting role while he was with Toronto in June 2005.
Lyons is getting his first chance to pitch in front of the home fans since he was called up a couple of weeks ago. The southpaw has been amazingly consistent in two starts so far, working seven innings and allowing just one run in each assignment at San Diego and Kansas City, both winning efforts. He had made eight starts at Triple-A Memphis before the promotion, recording a 4.47 ERA.
Tim Welke, who worked Wednesday's Cubs, White Sox contest at Wrigley, is scheduled to have the plate for this series finale, and brings a 7-5 O/U mark to the field. The storm system that has been wreaking havoc in the midwest should be well east of St. Louis this afternoon. Look for muggy conditions and the thermometer never making it out of the 60s today.
A run line play on the Cardinals is how I'm going to close out this set. Check back starting Monday when I continue to follow the Cardinals with previews and free picks in their home series with the Diamondbacks.
My pick: Cardinals -1.5 (+140) at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Dangerous weather continues to be the story across the central United States, and while St. Louis escaped the deadly outbreak of tornadoes on Friday, the threat along with nearly an inch of rain in the area during the day was enough to cancel Friday's series opener between the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.
The two clubs will try and squeeze in a day-night twinbill on Saturday, though more rain and potentially severe thunderstorms are in the forecast once again. Both managers are expected to trot out the pitchers they had scheduled for Friday, Matt Cain and Shelby Miller, in a 1:15 PM (ET) start at Busch Stadium. No MLB odds had been reissued for that matchup.
Game 2 of the set is on FOX's list for regional prime-time coverage Saturday night, and pits San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner against Arch City ace Adam Wainwright. The Redbirds opened carrying a $1.50 price tag on the overnight moneyline, and that was still holding following Friday's postponement.
Baseball bettors focused more on the scoreboard are looking at a 7 run total that is going to cost a little more to play the OVER.
The Giants have dropped Bumgarner's last three starts after winning six of his first eight. The most recent was Sunday in Oakland which ended his May with a 5.17 ERA following a 1.55 mark in April.
Bumgarner missed seeing the Cardinals when the clubs met at AT&T Park nearly two months ago, and has dropped his last three starts vs. St. Louis after beginning his career winning the first two times out in this matchup. The Cardinals lit the lefty up in Game 1 of last year's NLCS, raising his career ERA vs. them to 4.93.
St. Louis is 8-3 with Wainwright on the hill this season, and it's difficult to find a better hurler statistically when you combine his 2.48 ERA with a 74:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just two homers allowed in 80 frames. Both of those blasts came in the same game at homer-friendly Miller Park in Milwaukee, and the Redbirds took their ace off the hook by rallying for a 7-6 victory.
Wainwright has also pitched very well over his career vs. the Giants, beating them in San Fran back in April and owning a 2.65 ERA in eight starts. He's won his last three assignments vs. Bruce Bochy's club, including Game 4 of last October's NLCS.
We're a bit blind as far as knowing just how the two managers might juggle their lineups with a couple of games today, but I'm going to play the low side of the total in the second game Saturday night.
By: Willie Bee
Will this weekend be the last time the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants collide this season? Perhaps, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Last October's NLCS combatants are at least guaranteed of spending the next three days and nights in St. Louis, their final regular season matchup after the Cardinal took two of three in San Fran during the first week of the season. It gets underway with Matt Cain looking to avenge a beating he took in one of those Giants losses, while the Redbirds send Shelby Miller to the hill with the rookie in search of his second win this year against the defending MLB champs.
Early-bird MLB odds began with St. Louis laying around $1.50 worth of chalk and a 7.5 run total that carried extra juice on the OVER. There has been a slight reduction in the moneyline following overnight wagering.
St. Louis brings the best record in the majors into this series, and second-best return for bettors (+12.8 units), but the Cardinals have just a 1.5-game lead in the NL Central over the charging Pirates. San Francisco avoided being swept by the Oakland A's on Thursday to begin the weekend 1.5-games behind Arizona in the NL West race.
Giants To Pack On Air Miles Next Couple of Weeks
This trek to St. Louis begins a weird travel schedule for the Giants who will be right back home next Monday and Tuesday to host the Blue Jays. They will then go to Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Atlanta before returning to the Bay Area.
Cain is having a very strange season and has been very inconsistent on the mound, as his 5.00 ERA would attest. But after San Fran lost his initial five starts, the Giants are a perfect 6-0 since. He has allowed three homers in a game three times, but on second look we see all three were great parks for home run swingers (Colorado, Arizona, Milwaukee).
The one really bad game Cain had, and a big chunk of that ERA, came against these Cards who scored nine runs off the righty in the fourth inning of a 14-3 blowout. Cain walked five while getting just 15 outs last Sunday vs. the Rockies.
The best stat in support of Miller this year won't be found on the back of a bubblegum card. No, the best statistic is St. Louis is 7-3 in his first 10 assignments -- gamblers up $2.90 -- and the usual potent Cardinals offense isn't really giving Miller their best support. St. Louis has plated just 3.1 runs per game when the Houston native starts a game, well below the season average (4.77 rpg, tops in the NL).
Cards, Giants History Dates Back 122 Years
In a series that dates to 1892, it's the Giants who hold a 1,070-957 lead over the Cardinals, a record that includes not only the 2012 NLCS, but meetings in the1987 and 2002 NL title series as well.
St. Louis's two victories over the Giants back in April included two cash-outs for OVER bettors. Wagering the high side of the scoreboard was also profitable in four of the seven NLCS contests last October, along with a push.
The clubs split the 6-game regular series last year, also halving the four games played at the latest rendition of Busch Stadium where each team has won 13 games since the park opened in 2006. Thirteen of the 23 regular season matchups played at Busch III have gone past the total;
Rain forced two lengthy delays in Thursday series finale in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Giants, and more thunderstorms are in Friday's forecast. With this being the Giants' only trip to St. Louis this year, the umpires will do whatever necessary to get this game in, or we could see a doubleheader for the makeup later this weekend.
I'm going to back the rookie hurler for my baseball picks in this match with a play on Miller and the Cards in Game 1.
My pick: Cardinals -144 at Bet365[gameodds]3/228411/43-349-192/us[/gameodds]