Giants vs. Cardinals Game 4
By: Willie Bee
Michael Wacha seems to have a black cloud following him around this season, both figuratively and literally. So far, the young St. Louis hurler has responded admirably in his first full MLB season, and another strong performance on Saturday halted a 3-game skid for the Cardinals while also ending a 4-game San Francisco Giants win streak.
The 2-0 Cardinals win also gave them a shot to split this long series with the Giants who won the first two matches. A 2:15 PM (ET) start in St. Louis features an all-SEC pitching matchup as Tim Hudson goes for San Francisco against Lance Lynn. The Redbirds are priced from the mid-110s to the mid-120s on the MLB odds, scoreboard bettors faced with a 7 run total that carries extra juice on the high side.
Wacha tossed six shutout frames in Saturday's victory before rain ended his afternoon at 93 pitches. St. Louis reliever then proceeded to strike out six of the nine San Fran hitters after the delay, and Oscar Taveras belted a homer in his MLB debut for the only run the Cardinals really needed.
Off 1st-Career Shutout, Lynn Seeks 1st Win Against SF
One of the best free agent signings of this past winter, Hudson's return to the Bay Area has been nothing short of spectacular for the Giants. The veteran righthander is coming off seven shutout frames against the Cubs this past Tuesday, lowering his ERA below the 2.00 line and striking out five would-be Chicago hitters in the process.
St. Louis' lineup has historically given Hudson trouble, and the latest Busch Stadium has been extremely rough on the old Auburn Tiger. He's 1-2 with a 7.48 ERA in five career assignments on this mound.
Lynn also tossed scoreless baseball in his last start, going the distance Tuesday against the Yankees for his first career shutout. The former Ole Miss star is heading to the hill for his third career outing vs. the Giants, dropping both of the first two with nine runs charged to his scorecard over those 11.1 innings.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & a Free Pick
Lance Barrett suits up for his 11th appearance behind the plate in Sunday's series finale, bringing a strong 7-2-1 'over' trend to the matchup. He worked one Giants game a few weeks back in San Francisco that skipped past the total, with home favorites 4-2.
Rain interrupted Saturday's match for about an hour, and there's a 40% chance it could happen again Sunday. The rest of the forecast includes temps in the mid-80s with a South wind in the 10-15 mph range (out to left).
San Francisco has Monday off in advance of a 3-game set in Cincinnati to finish up this road trip, giving manager Bruce Bochy the luxury of using his full bullpen complement for today's contest. As inviting as the Giants are under those circumstances and with Hudson on the underdog price, I'm still going to run with St. Louis earning a split in this series for my free MLB pick.
My pick: Cardinals -120
Giants vs. Cardinals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Adam Wainwright didn't bring his A-game Friday night against the San Francisco Giants all while Madison Bumgarner made St. Louis Cardinals look like Single-A hitters.
It was that simple in Game 2 of the weekend set in St. Louis where the Giants stretched their win streak to four games and the Cards saw their skid move to three. San Francisco zipped out of the gate against Wainwright to build a 5-0 lead in the second and remove all mystery in the outcome. Hunter Pence's 3-run bomb pretty much sealed the deal, and Bumgarner whiffed 10 St. Louis batters in his seven innings of work before the Redbirds finally broke through against the Giants bullpen.
San Francisco looks to keep the good times rolling Saturday afternoon (2:15 PM ET), but will have do so without Matt Cain who was scratched from his start for Bruce Bochy's squad. Yusmeiro Petit fills in for Cain against St. Louis' Michael Wacha, and SBR's live MLB odds will have the betting lines a bit later this morning.
Petit Fills in Once More for Cain, Cards Call up Taveras
This is Petit's fifth start of 2014, along with 10 relief outings, and he has been ineffective the last three times he was called on in a fill-in role. The Cubs beat Petit and the Giants last Friday in San Francisco, scoring half of their eight runs while the Venezuelan was on the hill, and is facing the Cardinals for the first time since 2009.
Wacha has been about as consistent as they come this season, never allowing more than three runs in an assignment and sporting a 68-19 K/BB ratio in his first full MLB campaign. But the results have been just four Cardinal victories in Wacha's 11 starts, Saturday marking his first appearance vs. the Giants.
St. Louis is calling up prospect Oscar Taveras for the contest, Matt Adams headed to the DL with a calf strain in the accompanying move. Taveras is expected to be in Mike Matheny's starting lineup and was batting .325 with 7 HR at Triple-A Memphis.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Marcus Patillo, who has spent the past few seasons in the PCL, made his MLB umpiring debut this year when he called a Rockies-Padres game in San Diego on April 16. That game stayed 'under' the total, as have four of Patillo's six other plate assignments in 2014.
The off chance of a storm popping up today in St. Louis is there, but nothing that will keep the umpires and grounds crew from getting the game in. Look for a muggy 85º at first pitch with light ESE breeze (right to left).
Like everyone else, I'll have to wait for the wagering info to be released before making a final decision for my free baseball pick. But I'm feeling offense today in St. Louis, and already leaning towards an 'over' play on the total. Make sure to check back at SBRforum.com today for updates.
My MLB pick: No lines, lean "Over"
Giants vs. Cardinals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Thursday's series opener between St. Louis and San Francisco turned into a battle of the bullpens, and as they have all season, Giants relievers proved better than the Cardinals'. San Francisco's 6-5 victory gave the G-Men their third straight win while the Cards fell for the third time on four games on this homestand.
St. Louis now turns to its ace, Adam Wainwright, to try and even the long set on Friday (8:15 PM ET), San Fran countering with a pretty strong arm of its own in Madison Bumgarner. The Cardinals are chalked up in the -140 to -145 range at home, with a 6.5 run total showing up at every outlet charted by SBR's live MLB odds.
Thursday's see-saw battle turned in San Francisco's favor with a 3-run eighth inning, Michael Morse's double proving to be the game-winning knock. Coupled with Colorado's loss, the win helped the Giants to a 6.5 game bulge atop the NL West.
Game 2 Hurlers Stingy With Free Passes
After seeing his walk rate at a new career high in 2013, and starting 2014 a bit on the wild side, Bumgarner has turned into a control freak this month. The lefty issued just four walks among his last five starts, four of those San Francisco victories, and is coming off a solid performance vs. the Twins last Sunday when he tied a season-high with 10 Ks.
Bumgarner will be looking to stop a 4-game skid against the Cardinals, a streak that includes a rough performance in Game 1 of the 2012 NLCS. He's 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in four assignments at Busch Stadium.
Of course, when talking control freaks among MLB hurlers, Wainwright's name has to be part of the discussion. Only three batters have reached base via the free pass in his last four assignments (all St. Louis triumphs) and the big righty carries a 20-inning scoreless string into Friday's fracas. Wainwright has won his last four starts vs. San Francisco -- including a victory in Game 4 of the 2012 NLCS -- after dropping four of his first five career assignments against the Giants.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Ron Kulpa, a native of St. Louis, works his 12th game behind the plate this season and brings a 5-6 O/U mark into Friday's fracas. That record has come in streaks: four of his first five going 'over' and five of the last six staying 'under.' Kulpa's two games with either the Giants or Cards on the field failed to reach the total, but eight of his last 10 at Busch sailed past the mark.
A few scattered thunderstorms are in the St. Louis forecast, and they'll be looming for the entire weekend it appears. The threat is largest in the late-afternoon, early-evening hours, and it will be a very muggy 80º at the very least when Wainwright delivers the first pitch.
Attempts to talk myself out of backing Wainwright and the Redbirds have been unsuccessful, so I'm going to run with the chalk for my free baseball pick in Game 2.
My Free MLB pick: Cardinals -140
Season: 51-49 (+1.20)
Giants vs. Cardinals Game 1
By: Willie Bee
You know me and my tendency to get a bit giddy when it comes to a potential playoff preview on the baseball scene, but in the case of MLB Bettors (the people) vs. the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals (the plaintiffs), my giddiness has been found not guilty.
That's because the next four days in St. Louis is a down-home genuine for-real double throw-down lock for being a matchup of NL playoff contenders. Festivities begin Thursday night about a quarter past eight (ET) with Ryan Vogelsong and Jaime Garcia making up the initial mound clash. SBR's live MLB odds have the Cards around the -140 plateau with either a 7 or 7.5 run total available.
Cards Up 1st For
Giants On 7-Game NL Central Road
It was obvious early Wednesday afternoon that San Francisco (34-19, +14.7 units, 23-28 O/U/P) wasn't going to wrap up its homestand in a slugfest against the Cubs. Tim Lincecum started the Giants' 5-0 victory with five no-hit innings, helping Bruce Bochy's boys to a 5.5 game lead in the NL West as they head out of town. This long set in Arch City the start of a trip to the Midwest, Monday's day off followed by three in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile at Busch Stadium, St. Louis (29-24, -1.3 units, 24-26-3 O/U/P) was dropping its series finale to the New York Yankees, 7-4, to fall 2.5 games back of Milwaukee in the NL Central. The 2-1 series loss to start this homestand ended a 4-series win streak for Mike Matheny's troops.
It has been just about a year since the clubs last met, a 3-game series at Busch in St. Louis early last June serving as that encounter. The Cardinals won two of those three games and four of six on the season, half of their victories with Friday's starter Adam Wainwright on the hill.
San Francisco owns a 1,060-951 advantage over the course of this rivalry, and the Giants are 13-13 at the latest incarnation of Busch Stadium. Four of last season's six meetings went past the total, including two of three in St. Louis.
Garcia Back In Cards
Rotation Following Shoulder Surgery
Vogelsong didn't allow a run in either of his last two starts, the first of which was a 4-1 win over the Marlins nearly two weeks ago. He followed that up with another outstanding performance in a 2-1 victory vs. the Twins this past weekend, the righthander leaving in the seventh having allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out seven.
The Cardinals got to him for five runs in 5.1 innings early last season, the only time Vogelsong saw St. Louis in 2013. That followed a 2012 campaign in which he beat the Redbirds three times, two of those triumphs coming in Games 2 and 6 of the NLCS, seven frames of 1-run baseball each appearance.
Garcia makes his third start following shoulder surgery that sidelined him most of 2013, the Cardinals splitting the first two assignments. The southpaw limited the Reds to two runs while working into the sixth last Saturday in Cincinnati, and the most encouraging stat so far has been no walks against 12 K's in his first 12.2 frames.
He has fared very well against the Giants in the past, owning a 1.27 ERA and 2-1 record in four previous starts vs. San Francisco. Three batters that have given him fits are Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Michael Morse, that trio combining for a .342 average (13-for-38).
Thunderstorms are part of the St. Louis forecast for this entire series and beyond. The biggest threat for an interruption is probably Thursday evening when a 60% chance exists for a shower popping up. Temps should be in the upper-70s at game time with a east breeze (in from right).
The Cardinals aren't scoring nearly like they did in 2013 and Vogelsong has a full head of steam right now, which leads me to like the road 'dog for my free pick in Game 1.
My Pick: Giants +130
Season: 49-49 (-1.25)