Home run (Safe bet)
Go with the St. Louis Cardinals (1.57) to win at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals have been hot lately (8-2 coming into this series) and that should continue in this Friday contest. St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia gets the pitching call here. The left-hander has suffered numerous injuries over the past few seasons, but, when healthy, he has been an excellent performer. He currently appears to be on his game as he’s yielded just eight hits and one run in his past 14 innings of work. Moreover, he’ll face a team in the Phillies, who have not done well against left-handers (7-10 record on the year).
Philadelphia starter A.J. Burnett also has considerable talent. But one gets the sense that as his Phillies are sitting in also-ran status, he’s lost a bit of focus. In his past five games he is 1-3 with a 5.60 ERA. He also doesn’t throw as well at home as on the road. In Philadelphia he owns a 3.48 ERA; elsewhere that number balloons to 4.98.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Take the Seattle Mariners, on at 2.08, on the road to win versus the Kansas City Royals. While the Royals are higher in their respective divisional standings than the Mariners and also play at home in this game, I’m placing my faith here that Hisashi Iwakuma will carry Seattle to victory.
Overall, the Mariners are a good road team (20-14 coming into this series) and Iwakuma, in particular, has proved he can throw well away from Seattle. Though the sample size is small (three starts), his 2.49 ERA on the road is impressive. Equally as notable is Iwakuma’s performance versus the Royals. On May 8, he twirled an impressive eight innings of four-hit shutout baseball against Kansas City. Moreover, in 50 career plate appearances, Royals hitters possess a woeful .143 batting average against the pitcher.
James Shields will be on the pitcher’s mound for the Royals. The veteran has been a solid performer this year. He’s 8-3 with a 3.50 ERA. But it’s his recent performance that serves as a red flag. In his last five starts, Shields has a 5.34 ERA, having allowed a considerable 42 hits in 30 1/3 innings pitched.
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