Jeff Samardzija and the Giants are small chalk on the baseball odds Tuesday night when they continue their home series against Jameson Taillon and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Following a rough start to the second half of the season, August has been kinder to the Pittsburgh Pirates who are starting to make a move up the National League Wild Card ladder. The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, remain in their post All-Star Game funk, having dropped 19 of their last 28 and seen their lead in the NL West shrink to just a half-game over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That's the setting for the second game of their series in San Francisco, tonight's first pitch scheduled for 10:15 PM (ET) and to be delivered by Jeff Samardzija. Rookie Jameson Taillon gets the call for the Pirates who are slight underdogs on the morning moneyline, the Giants drawing a -111 price at 5Dimes. Scoreboard bettors are looking at 7-7½ for the total depending where they place their wagers.
Pittsburgh drew first blood in Monday's series opener, Gregory Polanco driving in half of the Pirates' runs in the 8-5 final. The 13 runs easily got past a 7½-8 run total to buck a trend for the clubs after six of the last eight at AT&T Park stayed 'under' the MLB odds.
They don't meet nearly as often as they used to, but this is a strong rivalry that goes back almost 130 years. The Giants hold the all-time edge, but it had been the Pirates with the upper hand the previous 10 seasons (38-25) before dropping three of four in Pittsburgh back in June. Two of the three San Fran wins went 'over' the total while Pittsburgh's lone triumph was a 1-0 duel between Jeff Locke and Madison Bumgarner.
Bucs Battered Samardzija Earlier This Season
Along with last night's victory, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle also enjoyed seeing Andrew McCutchen pick up a couple of hits and drive in two. McCutchen still isn't back to his MVP form but is reaching base more often by getting on in 15 of his last 33 plate appearances.
Taillon has also been a very pleasant addition to the pitching staff since being called up in June. He's coming off eight shutout innings last Thursday against the Padres, and the Pirates have won seven of his 10 starts to leave bettors up nearly four units as the 24-year-old prepares to face the Giants for the first time.
Samardzija is also coming off a nice performance, working into the sixth last week at Miami and allowing no runs in San Francisco's 1-0 triumph. The big righty had been charged with 36 earned runs in his previous eight assignments, pitching just over 46 innings in that span. The Pirates cracked three homers and scored six runs when they saw Samardzija in June at Pittsburgh, but the Giants still managed to collect the dubya.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Totals have split right down the middle this season when Marty Foster works the dish, his 20 plate assignments ending 10-10 O/U. Foster worked a game at AT&T earlier this season, a 1-0 Giants win that obviously stayed 'under' the baseball odds, and recently had the plate for one of Taillon's road starts that also never made it to the mark. The Denver native has been a bit of a homer when it comes to moneylines at 12-8 (8-5 when favored) and has made friends in San Francisco the last three times he's called balls and strikes. Foster's last five plate assignments in San Fran also turned into 'under' winners.
There's a lot of humidity in the air to the Golden Gate City, but no real threat of rain in the forecast. Most of Tuesday's contest should be played under clear skies and in the upper-50s, a solid 12-15 mph westerly wind (out to center) also in the mix.
Given the recent form for both teams, my free MLB pick is a relatively easy decision with a play on underdog Pittsburgh.
Season: 40-34 (+8.45)
Free MLB Pick: Pirates +100
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle