St. Louis lost three consecutive games and this string of disappointing results caused them to slip to the second place, one victory behind the leading Pittsburgh. Their otherwise strong home record recommends them as favorites in a match against their divisional rivals, despite losing the opening game. Cincinnati got away with a narrow margin victory and two runs were enough for them to secure victory in the opener. It is quite unlikely for them to score significantly more runs tonight when they will be facing one of the best starting pitchers in the National League.
The Cardinals are right to start with Jamie Garcia in the second game of the series, as he is not only in superb form but also quite effective against Cincinnati. He started for 7 times against them at home and emerged victorious in six of those starts, with a seventh game ending without a decision for Jamie. This season he has an earned run average of 2.89, so it is refreshing to know that his ERA in the head to head games is even better, standing at 2.40.
On the bright side, St. Louis can rest assured that the first innings will not cause them any headaches, because it is hard to believe that the reeling Reds will find a way to pitch around Garcia. Before Cardinals fans get overly optimistic about their chances to win this match, they should take a look at the tables and notice that their favorite team is mired in a three-game losing streak. It is the lack of offensive prowess that brought them to this unfortunate situation, but once again the Reds are a dream opponent.
It looks like they are poised to make the hosts mission easier by sending in Bronson Arroyo, a starting pitcher who has good reasons to fear the Cardinals. He’s at the opposite end of the spectrum if compared with Jamie Garcia, as his head to head record translates to one victory in seven games. Add to this the fact that his earned run average against St. Louis is a subpar 5.58 and becomes fairly obvious that the visitors will need a small miracle to win the second game in a row. The last time he took the mound, the Nationals pounded him for eight runs while his own team couldn’t provide more than one run of support.
Minnesota are slowly clawing their way to the top of the central division, and they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent that LA Angels. The visitors are reeling and an unfortunate combination of mediocre pitching and abysmal batting, has caused the former division winners to hit rock bottom. They are now tied with Houston for the last place and one more loss is enough for them to suffer the first sweep against the Twins in more than four years.
Everything seems to have gone down the drain for the Angels, who find it downright impossible to win games regardless of how their batting squad performs. The series against the Twins is particularly interesting, as LA was outscored in both games despite taking an early lead. This is a worrisome scenario for tonight, when they appear to have a slight edge in terms of starting pitchers, given the fact that the hosts chose to start Worley.
He has the highest opponent batting average in the league and with an ERA of 10.50, he looks like a sitting duck for the allegedly offensive LA Angels. Worley was terrible in both starts and his team couldn’t carry him despite Mauer being red-hot and scoring match after match. He’s the reason for Minnesota’s resurgence and the player that the visitors should walk time after time, because he can always score a home run when the bases are loaded.
The Angels conceded eight runs per game in both defeats this series, and they have no guarantee that this won’t happen again with Tommy Hanson as starting pitcher. The 27-year-old, split these two decisions in 2013, but with an earned run average of 6.55 is hardly a player to trust in the first innings. Add to this the fact that he rarely lasts more than five innings, and it becomes obvious that the Angels have no reasons to be overconfident ahead of this fixture.
Punters would be tempted to back the hosts to win the third game in a row, but the Worley factor should not be underestimated, not with the starting pitcher allowing an average of 10 rounds per match. A better solution would be to bet on more than 9.5 runs to be scored, even though the odds are not terrific. because this type of wager has the best ratio between reward and risk. For a glance at recent team performance and the standings, check out http://www.sportsearch.info/sports-statistics/Baseball-Statistics.php.
For a brief period of time Houston Astros found themselves at the top of Major League Baseball as a result of beating state rivals in the opening game. Texas Rangers is widely regarded as one of the favorites to win its division and among the teams with a decent chance at winning the World Series. They certainly didn’t look like one when facing the Astros and they will need to make some adjustments in their starting rotation. The pitching was below expectations and although Houston is not one of the best hitting teams in the majors, the hosts scored eight runs with relative ease.
For Bo Porter, the opening game couldn’t have ended better and gave him his first win as a manager, but what’s most important, proved that his spring training strategy paid off. Erik Bedard was terrific in the 3 1/2 innings he played, although the coach chose to pull him out relatively early despite the fact that he didn’t concede a single run. It was a magical night for the Astros who won their 4000th victory and the opening match for the first time in over seven years.
Uplifting as these victory might be, Houston has a long and twisted road ahead of it and needs to finish the season with a winning record for the first time in five years. What’s most worrisome is that the Astros have lost more than 100 games for consecutive seasons and it was their hitting squad that dragged them to the gutter. On the upside, neither the fans nor the management have high expectations and the lack of pressure should help Houston get back on track and make an attempt at a rare playoffs berth.
Erik Bedard is one of the pitchers that have an excellent record against Texas, but the veteran player has been relatively sharp against other American League opponents. Porter will need him and his fellow pitchers to keep up because everyone is watching him now that he has become the youngest manager in professional baseball. His team can’t compete with the usual candidates for the playoffs, but despite the relatively low-budget, Porter has good reasons to be optimistic.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Texas Rangers, a team that has high a budget and equally high aspirations. They were unable to prevent Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli from leaving the team in the season break and only time will tell whether the replacements will rise up to the challenge. Matt Harrison and Berkman are yet to prove their worth, following a rather disappointing first game for the Rangers, while Nelson Cruz was even worse in the opening game and one of his errors allowed Houston to score in the fifth inning.
The Astros will need to keep up this tempo at least until the All Stars game, because poor season starts prevented them from standing a chance in the second half in the last couple of years. It is going to be difficult for Porter to lead his young team to the playoffs, but if he succeeds in beating the odds he will have a long and prosperous career in Houston. An interesting recap of the opening game is available