A motivated Washington Nationals team will pick up a win in Chicago against the demoralized Cubs. Washington remain on the cusp of the National League Wild Card race, while the Cubs are just finishing out the season. Adding to Chicago’s woes here is the fact that their starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, is currently in freefall. In his past five starts he is 0-2 with a 6.11 ERA and his most recent three starts have been even worse; he has a 9.39 ERA in that stretch. Pitching at Wrigley Field adds to Samardzija’s headaches: he possesses a 4.95 ERA at home this year (compared to his 3.63 ERA on the road).
Washington will be much more comfortable with its pitching pick. Jordan Zimmermann is on form in his last three starts, going 2-0 and allowing just three runs in 17 innings of work. Overall, his 14 wins on the season place him first in the National League in wins. Take Washington (1.72) to nab the road win.
A low-scoring result is likely when the Boston Red Sox visit the San Francisco Giants. Boston’s starting pitcher, Jon Lester, has generally been a disappointment in 2013; he has the talent of an ace, but his 4.31 ERA reflects something different. And yet he’s been excellent on the road recentlt, giving up only three earned runs in 20 1/3 innings pitched in his past three starts away from Boston. He should keep that streak alive at AT&T Park, which ranks 28th out of thirty stadiums in terms of run scoring, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors.
The Giants’ Tim Lincecum also gives reason to believe in a tight game. Over his last two home starts he has conceded just two runs in 15 innings pitched, striking out 18. Moreover, Lincecum has a history of potency against Boston’s hitters. In 118 career plate appearances, Red Sox players own a combined .196 batting average. As a result, there is a good likelihood of a pitchers’ duel, meaning a run total under 7.0 – on at 2.05 – is a worthy bet.