By: Willie Bee
It didn't matter who Bruce Bochy sent to the mound Tuesday for the San Francisco Giants. The New York Mets hit them all in a 10-6 victory, and Terry Collins' crew now has the opportunity to pull of their first-ever sweep at AT&T Park.
Wednesday's series finale is set for a first pitch at 12:45 PM local time (3:45 PM ET), and offers up a fine mound duel between New York rookie Zack Wheeler and San Fran's Matt Cain. The Giants are big -190 favorites to avoid their first home brooming by the Mets since 1994, and the MLB odds have settled on a 7 run total after most baseball betting outlets started things off a half-run higher.
Marlon Byrd's 8th-inning grand slam was the difference in New York's victory in Game 2 as both starters, Dillon Gee and Barry Zito, proved no match for either lineup. Each hurler allowed five runs and combined to walk nine batters, four of those free passes coming around to score.
Wheeler's first four big league games have been a mixed bag, which is what you'd expect from a greenhorn. Control has been a big issue, 13 walks in 21 innings, which have a habit of turning around to bite fly-ball pitchers like Wheeler. So far, all four homers Wheeler's allowed have been solo shots and only one free pass has crossed the plate, but you can bet that will change.
Cain's overall numbers are funky and you really need to dig at them to find the whole story. The 4.85 ERA is largely the result of just three really bad innings -- officially, 2.0 IP -- in which he allowed a total of 22 earned runs. The Cardinals battered him twice, including a June 1 contest we covered for SBR, and the Dodgers did it to him last Friday in the opener of that series. Cain is sporting a 3.12 ERA otherwise as he hunts for his first win since beating the Pirates on June 13 in Pittsburgh.
The Giants have won four of Cain's last five assignments against the Metropolitans, a nifty 2.01 ERA in that span, and are 6-4 when he takes the mound vs. New York with a lifetime 3.60 ERA.
It should be a nice afternoon for a game with sunny skies and a cool 63º along with a west breeze (out to center). Todd Tichenor is expected to call the balls and strikes and brings a very slight lean to the low side into the game (8-9-1 O/U/P). Four of his last five plate assignments have gone OVER, however.
There really is no reason to expect the Mets to complete a sweep against Cain, but there's also no reason to play the Giants right now. I'm going to back Wheeler in the end, and add New York to our MLB picks.
My pick: Mets +179 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
It took 'em 16 innings to decide matters Monday evening in San Francisco, but the Giants and New York Mets finally got things settled. In fact, it was early Tuesday morning local time before the final out was recorded, and that should make for some weary players, especially down in the bullpens, when the Giants try to even things up against the Mets in Game 2.
Both managers are counting on their starters tonight, Dillon Gee for New York and Barry Zito for San Fran, to work deep into the contest after each set of relievers worked a full nine innings in Game 1. The Giants began the betting proceedings as $1.25 chalk in the MLB odds, and that price is in the low -130s after initial wagering.
A 7.5 run total has seen enough MLB betting action on the UNDER to push that direction to -125 juice, and we could see the scoreboard hurdle dropped to 7-flat before first pitch.
A Brandon Crawford error in the 16th played into the Mets' 4-3 win on Monday when both Matt Harvey and Tim Lincecum did their jobs over the first seven frames. Six relievers from New York's bullpen ended up burning through 164 pitches while San Francisco's relief corps used up 230 tosses to complete the contest.
Borrowing a phrase from Mark Grace about his former Cubs teammate Mitch Williams, Gee has been pitching like his hair's on fire for about six weeks. His ERA was 6.34 on May 25, and Gee's seven starts since have included six strong efforts and an ERA under two-fifty in the stretch. With a little help from the offense, the Mets could be 6-1 during this run, but are a pedestrian 4-3 instead.
Tuesday will be his AT&T Park cherry, and while Gee has improved on the road the last month-&-a-half, he still sports a lofty ERA away from home. The Giants have pounded on him in two relief outings and a start the past few seasons (9.1 IP, .350 AVG, 7 ER).
Zito has been the poster child for inconsistent San Francisco starters, outside of Madison Bumgarner. Only six of his 17 assignments have filled the bill to be quality starts, and the lefty has been working from the stretch a lot with a ton of traffic on the bases, as a 1.62 WHIP and .310 batting average against him would attest. Like Gee, Zito has been much better at home, way, way better in fact (1.98 ERA, Giants 8-2).
Umpire Bill Miller has been an UNDER bettor's friend this season with 12 of his 17 plate assignments finishing below the bar, and we have basically the same weather forecast as Monday (60º to start game, 10 mph WNW wind out to right-center).
It would be nice to know the lineups right now, as I suspect we could see both catchers (John Buck and Buster Posey) get a game off. New York is a respectable 18-14 vs. lefthanders, but I'm going to get behind the home fave for my sports pick in Game 2.
MLB pick: Take SF Giants -130 at William Hill
Monday Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
A present day phenom on the mound will go up against a former wunderkind pitcher when the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants begin their 3-game series at AT&T Park.
Monday's series opener in San Fran is the final game on the MLB betting schedule, and starts our weeklong coverage of the Giants who will be in San Diego following this set. The mound duel in Game 1 is intriguing to say the least, though it is also one-sided based on 2013 performances.
Though stats for the two hurlers are one-sided, MLB odds suggest a tight affair between New York's Matt Harvey and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Harvey and the Mets went out as -125 to -130 chalk for the tilt, but action on Lincecum and the Giants cut that money line to -110.
A 6.5 run total is the choice scoreboard bettors are making, and the number favors both the OVER and UNDER depending which window they head to for their wagers.
The Giants own a 309-263 all-time advantage over the Mets, but this series is dead-even at 43-43 since the start of the 2000 season. AT&T Park opened that year, and San Francisco is 26-18 vs. the New Yorkers on the diamond. The clubs split their eight meetings in 2012, each taking three of four on the road.
Lincecum & Harvey Collide For Second Time
The Giants' lone home win over the Mets last year featured this very same pitching matchup. Chalked up on a -160 moneyline, Lincecum turned in one of his better 2012 efforts (7 IP, 1 ER, 7 K) as the eventual World Champions scored a 4-1 victory. Harvey matched Lincecum in the K column, but allowed three of San Francisco's runs during his 6-inning showing.
Lincecum is looking for his first win in more than a month with the Giants dropping each of his last five starts. The little righty rang up eight strikeout victims at Cincinnati last Tuesday, but also allowed three runs in 5.1 frames while Reds hurler Homer Bailey was tossing his second career no-hitter. Lincecum has just six quality efforts among his 17 starts, and the Giants are 7-10 behind their former 2-time Cy Young winner.
New York has dropped each of Harvey's last two starts, the most recent against the Diamondbacks that marked the first time in 2013 the former Tar Heel allowed more than four runs in a game. He ranks third in the majors with a 2.27 ERA and trails only Yu Darvish for the strikeout lead. Remarkably consistent at home (2.21 ERA) and on the road (2.36 ERA), Harvey has helped the Mets to an impressive 7-2 mark in his starts away from Citi Field.
Giants In Tailspin, Mets Begin July On Winning Note
San Francisco dropped two of three to the Dodgers over the weekend to begin this homestand, leaving the Giants 1--5 in July and 5-16 since the middle of June. Outside of Madison Bumgarner, the rotation is a mess, and the lineup is among the weakest in the NL where only the Marlins (53) have fewer homers than San Francisco (58).
The Mets reach the Bay Area having just taken two of three from the Brewers in Milwaukee, leaving them 4-3 in July and a profitable 13-9 since mid-June when the Giants' slide started. The hitters are holding their own in the NL with a 4.08 scoring clip that ranks just below the NL average (4.10), and the rotation is right in the middle of the Senior Circuit with a 3.86 ERA.
Cool and cloudy is the Monday evening forecast for San Francisco; the thermometer should be smack-dab on 60º when the game starts before falling into the mid-50s. An 8-12 mph wind from the west (out to center) is also predicted.
Would I like to see Harvey and Lincecum hook up in an old-fashioned pitchers duel? Yes. Do I think it will happen? No. My play in Game 1 of this series will be on the OVER.