The long, slow grind that is the baseball betting schedule reaches the all-star break after today's contests, and you can count San Francisco Giants righthander Tim Lincecum among the players looking forward to the rest.
Lincecum put in a little extra effort Saturday night in no-hitting the San Diego Padres and helping the Giants to their third straight win in this series. The Freak needed 148 pitches to complete the gem, his first complete-game shutout since May 2011, and put the Padres on the precipice of being swept for the third time in July. San Francisco will try and complete the broom job Sunday afternoon in a battle southpaws.
Despite having just one win in the last 15 games, San Diego is toting the chalk in this match with Eric Stults on the hill. Stults got the dubya in the Padres' only win this month, and he'll collide with Giants veteran Barry Zito in the 4:10 PM (ET) contest. San Diego is tagged in the low -150s at most books monitored by SBR's live MLB odds, an 8.5 run total that favors the UNDER also on the board.
Zito cost me some money earlier this week when he went up against the Mets in Game 2 of that series. The loss was the third straight for the Giants with Zito on the hill, and sixth in his last seven assignments. The last time Zito recorded a dubya on his ledger was May 30, a game in which he walked six, and the Giants are 0-7 when he pitches on the road where his ERA is over 9.00.
The former Southern Cal star does have a 1.65 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Padres, but the Giants lost two of those games.
Stults bounced back from a rough outing in Boston on July 4 with a complete-game performance at home this past Tuesday vs. the Rockies. He limited Colorado's lineup to just four hits and a run, burning through a season-high 122 pitches.
Zito and Stults met twice before this season, facing off six days apart in April with the Giants and Padres splitting those battles. Stults struggled in both of those starts (11 IP, 10 ER), but pitched well in a June start in San Francisco only to come away from the game with a no-decision in an eventual San Diego loss.
Laz Diaz has the plate for the finale and brings an unremarkable 10-8 O/U mark to the tilt. A typically lovely afternoon is in the San Diego weather forecast with a first-pitch temp around 75º, sunny skies and a light 8-10 mph breeze from the west (out to right).
Neither Zito nor the Padres, especially as chalk, will be on my play list today, and the total presents its own conundrum. I'll go ahead and bite on the UNDER for me free pick.
My pick: Giants-Padres Under 8.5 (-115) at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
A matchup between enigmatic righthanders appropriately opened as a pick on the overnight MLB odds. What little action we've seen since the numbers first went out has been on the San Diego Padres who we'll call the -110 favorites in the third contest of their 4-game series with the San Francisco Giants.
The tough nuts to crack on the mound are Tim Lincecum for the Giants and San Diego's Edinson Volquez, and bettors have both 7.5 and 8 run totals available.
San Francisco bats came to life Friday night in a 10-1 rout in front of a packed house at Petco Park. Buster Posey drove in half of the Giants' runs while Gregor Blanco scored four times in winning their fourth straight over the Padres. San Diego is now 1-11 in July and sinking deeper into the NL West basement.
We saw Lincecum earlier this week when he faced off against the Mets in the opener of the series in San Francisco. The Freak enjoyed a nice game, including a season-high 11 strikeouts, but it wasn't enough as New York won the game in 16 innings en route to a sweep of the Giants.
Lincecum has a solid track record vs. the Padres over the years, posting a 2.34 ERA with 179 K's in a little less than 158 innings. He split back-to-back starts against San Diego in April, and should've won them both after allowing just two runs in 13.2 IP with 17 K.
Volquez was part of our series coverage a little more than a week ago when the Padres were in Boston. The Dominican pitched the middle game of that set and did well with six innings of 1-run baseball. Unfortunately, Volquez received no help from his bats as the Red Sox swept that series as part of a 10-game losing skid for the Padres. His two starts vs. the Giants this year have resulted in no-decisions with San Diego splitting the contests (11 IP, 5 ER).
Mark Wegner is scheduled to work the plate in Saturday's clash, and his 11-9 O/U record hides a very streaky season for the 16-year veteran ump. His last six plate assignments went OVER the total, and that run was preceded by a seven consecutive games that stayed UNDER. It might also be worth keeping an eye on first base umpire Laz Diaz who ejected Pads manager Bud Black on Friday.
Lincecum and the Giants aren't necessarily exuding a ton of confidence right now, but they're certainly more reassuring a play than the Padres. While you're here, you might as well also check out our preview and free MLB pick for Game 2 of the series in Detroit between the Tigers and Rangers.
My pick: Giants -102 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Sometimes you just gotta' get away for the weekend to recharge the old batteries. That's what Bruce Bochy hopes will happen for his San Francisco Giants after they snapped a 4-game skid with Thursday's win at the San Diego Padres.
The bottom two squads in the NL West go right back to work Friday night in the second clash of this 4-game set, and the Giants are tiny favorites to make it two wins in a row, a feat they haven't accomplished since hosting the Padres back in mid-June. Chad Gaudin takes his turn in the San Franciscorotation, and baseball betting outlets have the G-Men priced in the -110 to -115 range.
San Diego is calling up Sean O'Sullivan from the minors for this matchup, and the MLB odds are offering an 8 run total which favors the UNDER.
Madison Bumgarner spotted the Pads a 2-0 lead in the first on Thursday, then combined with his bullpen to shut San Diego out the rest of the way while the San Fran offense had just enough life for a 4-2 victory. It was the sixth consecutive start that Bumgarner went seven innings, and the sixth win for the Giants in his last seven assignments.
Gaudin hits the mound for the first time since formally being charged with lewdness stemming from an arrest in Las Vegas way back in January. He just came off the DL Sunday after getting hit on his right elbow by a line drive in a June 20 start, and matched Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw in a duel with seven innings of 1-run baseball. Gaudin didn't figure into the decision, a 4-1 Dodgers win. Once a Padre himself, Gaudin saw San Diego twice this season as a reliever, totaling four innings with one run scoring and seven strikeouts to his credit. He's 2-6 lifetime at Petco Park with a 5.30 ERA.
O'Sullivan is making his first MLB appearance since Sept. 2011 when he was with the Royals. The San Diego native has been at Triple-A Tucson up to now where he posted a 3.88 ERA in 18 starts, a good number in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Friday will be the second time O'Sullivan has faced the Giants, the first being his MLB debut in 2009 when he wore an Angels jersey. The husky righty got the win in San Francisco with seven solid frames and only one Giant crossing the plate.
Partly cloudy skies and the thermometer stuck right at 70º for the entire game is what the weatherman is calling for Friday in San Diego. Next up for the plate in the umpire rotation should be Mike Winters who brings a fairly level 11-9 O/U mark into the tilt. Home underdogs are winless at 0-4 when Winters calls the ball and strikes.
Check out the Betting Lines & Odds Report for a comprehensive look at todays featured games.
Thursday's win was just the second on the road for the Giants in their last 12 games; expecting them to win two in a row might be asking too much, but that is the way I'm going to play it with a free pick onSan Francisco.
My pick: Giants -110 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
A battle for the NL West basement gets underway Thursday, and SBR has previews and free picks for all four games between the Giants and Padres.
Ten games under .500 and coming off a sweep at the hands of the New York Mets? Yeah, I'd say that more than qualified the San Francisco Giants as a struggling club. The defending World Series champs will try and shake their troubles loose this weekend in San Diego against a Padres bunch that is only percentage points ahead of the Giants for last in the NL West.
If there's any good news for Bruce Bochy as his club embarks on this short 4-game trip to take them up to the all-star break, it's having pitcher Madison Bumgarner on the bump for Thursday's series opener at Petco Park. The southpaw has been the only consistent arm in the San Fran rotation and has been part of two victories in as many starts over the Pads this season.
The flip side is that Bud Black and San Diego will also have a successful arm on the hill in Jason Marquis who has also beaten the Giants this year.
Despite their struggling ways -- or perhaps because their opponents are also a mess -- the MLB odds like the Giants in Game 1 with the moneyline set around -130 on San Francisco. Seven taxed to the OVER is the total on the baseball betting board.
The Giants begin this series having won just twice in their last 16 games, and both dubyas came in contests started by Bumgarner. In fact, three of San Francisco's most recent four victories, a span that dates back to June 19, were behind their southpaw who leads Giants starters in quality efforts (12), ERA (3.05) and strikeouts (116).
Two assignments vs. the Padres this year saw Bumgarner combine for 13 innings and only allow four runs, along with racking up 18 K's. Both of those outings came in San Francisco, however, and he hasn't enjoyed his usual numbers at Petco Park despite its pitcher-friendly setting. The Giants have split Bumgarner's six career starts in San Diego while he posted an ERA close to 4.00.
Marquis has been in a bit of a funk with the Padres dropping each of his last three outings and the veteran pitching to a 4.85 ERA in the stretch. The end results have been good when he takes the mound in San Diego, however, with the Pads 8-3 in those contests.
He beat the Giants here in late-April, working into the seventh and allowing just two runs. The one hitter in the SF lineup that has given Marquis fits over the years is Hunter Pence, with their battles going back to when they were wore other uniforms. Pence is 12-for-29 lifetime (.414) with a homer.
Padres Broomed Giants Their Last Visit To San Diego
That win on April 28 by Marquis completed a Padres sweep of the Giants when they last came to town. Two of the three games in that series went OVER the total, and seven of the nine games at Petco Park last season also skipped past the scoreboard figure. San Francisco won all three sets in San Diego last year.
Both teams have played slightly to the high side of the totals so far in 2013, though two of the first three Padres games on this homestand stayed UNDER. All three Giants games vs. the Mets went past the number.
Believe it or not, there is a chance of rain in San Diego on Thursday, though it diminishes to 20% come the evening. Humid and around 70º is the forecast for game time, along with a SW wind in the 5-10 mph range (out to right).
As poorly as the Giants have been playing, I've still got confidence in Bumgarner in this matchup. My free pick in Game 1 is on San Francisco.
My pick: Giants -129 at Bet365