San Francisco Giants Face Washington Nationals in Clash of Division Leaders

One of the top series of the week gets set tonight from AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, as the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants (63-52, 34-24 home) prepare to host the National League East-leading Washington Nationals (71-44, 39-22 away) for a 3-game set starting at 10:15 PM ET.

The Washington Nationals bring their MLB-leading road record into tonight’s match-up but will look to change the tide in this series which has been flowing towards San Francisco, winners of 9 of the last 12 meetings between these two teams in the Bay Area. San Francisco however has been riding a serious hot streak coming in to tonight’s match-up, winning 7 of their last 10 games, 2 straight, and should see another boost as All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval is set to make his return from the disabled list after missing 3 weeks of action. Though the Giants have been rolling on offense without him, averaging more than 7 runs per game in their last 10 contests, they’ll be happy to have Sandoval acting as a contributor, against the league’s best pitching rotation which throws out its’ leader in wins, Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 3.32 ERA) tonight.

Gonzalez is fresh off a complete game win against Houston last week, and the Nationals walk into this series having swept a home series against SF from July 3-5, and also will look to bounce back from their first loss in 9 games. Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 3.42 ERA in this series, mostly coming from his time with the Oakland Athletics (and interleague games between the two Cali squads), and no doubt will try to get his team back on track tonight against a hungry Giants squad that sits with just a 1-game cushion over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race.With the Giants hitting the ball very well, Gonzalez will certainly be focused on pitching around Buster Posey first and foremost, who while going just 1-for-7 lifetime against Gonzalez, has been the hottest hitter in baseball post-All Star break with a .459 average in August featuring 6 homers and 15 RBIs thus far. He’ll also be watching out for Melky Cabrera, who comes off a 2-for-5 night with 2 runs and 3 RBs against Colorado, and is batting .348 on a fantastic season. Keep an eye out also for Hunter Pence, who went deep last night with a 3-run shot for his first home run in a Giants uniform. If Gonzalez can keep these three top hitters in check in Game 1 this evening, he’ll be well positioned to make a deep run against a stingy opponent for the Giants.

On the mound for the Giants tonight is Ryan Vogelsong (10-5, 2.27 ERA), who continues to be simply outstanding in just about every match-up he’s put into this season. Coming off a 7-inning shutout performance against the St. Louis Cardinals last week, (15-0 blowout win for SF) Vogelsong gets his first career start against Washington, looking for a third consecutive victory this month. While run support had been an issue for him during July (in which he was 1-2 over 5 starts despite posting a 2.18 ERA), he’s had a whopping 31 runs of support in the last 2 games he’s started, which no doubt is an encouraging and confidence-inspiring turn of events for the 35 year old out of Charlotte, NC. He’ll certainly get a challenge from the surprising bats of the Nationals, who have upped their game to rank first in runs scored since the All-Star break, but there’s a huge advantage here for the veteran pitcher, who faces a line-up that has just 16 combined at-bats against him, going 1-for-16 in the process. No doubt the heavy bats of Washington’s Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche will be something to watch out for, but expect Vogelsong to get through the first couple of trips through the Nats’ batting order will little issues.

Betting lines for the Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants at TopBet sportsbook.

As to be expected, the betting lines for straight up money wagers finds the two teams very tight today, with -113 odds going the way of the home team Giants, and +103 odds taking the Nationals as slight underdogs. With both teams coming in with big bats swinging and great pitching, it’s almost a toss-up who’s going to grab Game 1, but with the way San Francisco has been slugging the ball, plus Ryan Vogelsong on the mound, PLUS Pablo Sandoval back in the line-up, you’d have to figure the Giants will be getting most of the straight up wagers tonight.

Against the spread, San Francisco will have very intriguing odds to cover the -1.5 runs as favorites, at -180 price. In their last 8 total victories, San Francisco has covered the spread each time. Washington on the other hand covered the spread just 4 times during their 8-game winning streak, and failed to cover the spread in their last two match-ups. With Vogelsong being relatively unseen by the Nats, and with San Francisco’s strong record at home against them, we’re liking the play taking the Giants with the -1.5 runs at favorable +180 odds.

Finally for the over/under tonight, the total runs line stands at a very low 6.5 runs, as the bookmakers are taking the starting pitching match-up more into consideration than the hot bats of both clubs. We are approaching this line with a little bit of caution, but even with the big bats in play, the starting pitching for both sides could easily find this game coming down to who wins the race to 3 runs. We’re predicting a very low scoring game as pitching dominates tonight, with both teams coming down a bit from two previous high-scoring affairs. Look out for a 3-2 or 4-2 game going either way in this match-up.