Nationals v Cardinals
On the edge of elimination, the Washington Nationals will live to fight another day with a win at home against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday. The Cards’ starter Kyle Lohse has posted a career-year in 2012, registering a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA. But the Nationals had his number in two match-ups earlier this season. Lohse had a 6.94 ERA against the Nationals and in his one start at Nationals Park he was hit around hard, giving up eight runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Lohse was also more hittable during the day (this game starts at 4 p.m. local time). He posted a 3.55 ERA in day games, compared to a 2.56 ERA at night. So the Nationals will want to get to him early. As for Washington’s starter Ross Detwiler, the opportunity to pitch at home will suit him well. The left-hander was 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA in D.C. In contrast, he was 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA at home. While Washington fell at their ballpark on Tuesday, they’ve generally been strong at home. During the regular season, they posted a 50-31 record (.617 winning percentage) at Nationals Park. The Nats (on at 1.95) are the pick as they will not go down easily in this series against the Cardinals (1.85).
A's v Tigers
The Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander is being paid $80 million over five years on his current contract for days like this. He should lead his club to a win against the A’s, eliminating Oakland in their American League Divisional Series. Verlander was dominating in the opening clash of this series. He went seven innings allowing just three hits and one run while striking out eleven. As always, the issue with Verlander is how he throws in the first inning – he can be shaky in the top frame (the A’s Coco Crisp connected with a home run in the first at bat of the opener). But after that – barring a major meltdown – Verlander should cruise. With Oakland’s propensity to strikeout (they set a new team record for strikeouts in 2012) and Verlander’s ability to get punch-outs (he led the American league this year for the third time in four seasons), this was never going to be a good match-up for the A’s. In case you’re wondering, Verlander has always felt comfortable pitching in Oakland. In nine career starts at the A’s home ballpark, Verlander has posted a 2.47 ERA. In his one appearance there this year, he went seven innings allowing just two hits and one run. He struck out eight. Take the Tigers at 1.65, instead of the A’s at 2.25.