Though the San Francisco Giants may have gotten off to a relatively ho-hum start to the season by accumulating an 18-18 record through 36 games played thus far, there’s no question that they’ll be getting psyched up for a brief 2-game series with the current World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who march into town sporting an impressive 12-7 road record and sit atop the NL Central division. With game-time set for 10:15 PM ET, and two outstanding young pitchers set to take the mound, this match-up will certainly be a great option for baseball fans and online sports betting enthusiasts to get behind in the middle of the week.
The Giants have definitely had their ups and downs so far this season, having one of the best pitching rotations in baseball talent-wise while struggling to produce on offense, ranking 25th in the league in runs scored while lacking a major power section in their line-up. Further to their offensive concerns, the Giants rank in the bottom third in the league in home runs and runs batted in, which has put even more pressure on the pitching rotation to hold opponents’ bats in check. Missing top closer Brian Wilson for the season, who needed Tommy John surgery for the second time to repair a damaged elbow, definitely hasn’t helped out the Giants’ cause either, but at least fill-in Santiago Casilla (8 saves, 1.84 ERA) has really stepped up to fill a big pair of shoes (and a big beard). Interestingly enough on the pitching side of things, all Giants’ starters have posted sub-3.00 ERA’s through the first 36 games, with the exception of former Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum, who has struggled in his first 8 starts, posting a sky-high 5.77 ERA. For tonight however, Madison Bumgarner (5-2, 2.80 ERA) has been a truly bright spot and a source of confidence for San Francisco especially at home, where tonight he’ll attempt to become just the 4th pitcher in team history (in their current SF location) to accumulate 9 straight wins at home (he’s 8-0 with a 1.00 ERA with 53 K’s in 54 innings dating to last August). To his advantage tonight, he may get lucky by not having to face former teammate Carlos Beltran, who has been on a tear this season for his new Cardinals club, leading them with 13 homers and 32 RBIs to make up for the void left by Albert Pujols. Also, with St. Louis marred by injuries and slumping a bit over the past 6 games (1-5), now is a great opportunity for San Francisco to build some confidence at home and get themselves over the .500 hump on the season.
For St. Louis tonight, Jaime Garcia (2-2, 4.09 ERA) will take the mound trying also to shake off a rough patch of starts over the past two weeks. Allowing 13 runs over 3 straight losses by the Cardinals, Garcia could get a big of a break against a Giants’ offense that has only produced 51 runs at home in 17 games (2nd to last in the MLB, 3 runs/game). With the Cardinals nearly doubling that offensive output on the road, Garcia would certainly get a boost if the St. Louis bats can continue to get back on track and provide him with some run support, which will be critical early in tonight’s game to shake the confidence of Madison Bumgarner. Getting another solid performance out of Matt Holliday (3-4, 3 runs yesterday against the Cubs), and getting David Freese out of his 0-for-16 slump at the plate would certainly give the Cards a boost, especially as talented hitter Jon Jay (.343 average) heads to the 15-day DL with lingering shoulder soreness. The Cardinals have been dominant at the plate this season, hardly missing Pujols in the line-up (ranking 3rd in runs, 2nd in batting average, 2nd in slugging pct., and 1st in on-base pct.), but have to get their bats back on track in a tough place for hitters at AT&T park. Without offensive contribution, the Cardinals may be setting Jaime Garcia up for another tough outing, who has struggled on the road with 3 straight losses getting on average just 2.3 runs of support over those starts. Though the Giants don’t produce many runs at home, behind Bumgarner they certainly have to like their chances of pull through this match-up even if they only generate 2 or 3 runs on total on the evening.
Betting Lines for San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Intertops Sportsbook.
This is a tight match-up on the betting lines at Intertops Sportsbook tonight, as the Giants are only a slight underdog at -104 odds straight up, while St. Louis has -106 odds to win on the money line. The Cardinals, despite struggling to produce for Garcia on the road, come in with one of the best road records in the National League this season, and will try to win back-to-back games after dropping 4 straight previously.
Against the spread, San Franciscso gets 1.5 runs to play with at -190 odds, while St. Louis will need to cover 1.5 runs at +165 odds. Again, the level of support for Garcia is troubling here, especially considering that Bumgarner is averaging just 1 run per 9 innings of work at home over the past 8 starts, but with San Francisco also failing to produce much at home and facing a pitcher in Garcia who’s bound to improve his form, this should be a tight, low-scoring game that favors going with the lower odds on San Francisco to cover the spread.
For the Over/under in this solid pitching duel, 6.5 runs is the mark to stay under or beat on the total runs line, with -115 odds to go under, and -105 odds taking the underside of this betting line. With San Fran struggling to produce at home, and Bumgarner yet to prove he’ll falter on his own mound, staying towards the under bet here might be the safest play of the evening for betting on this game.