MLB Picks: Giants at Braves Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/16/2011
If the San Francisco Giants miss out on the playoffs – and thus defending their World Series title -- by a single game, be it finishing second to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West race or to the Atlanta Braves in the Wild-Card standings, they may point to Monday’s loss in Atlanta. The Giants, despite playing without Carlos Beltran and losing Pablo Sandoval to injury in the first inning, were able to rally from a 2-0 deficit and take a 4-2 lead into the ninth. Before the game, it was ‘iffy’ whether Giants All-Star closer Brian Wilson would be available to pitch because of a sore back, but he was eventually given the OK. Bad decision.
The Braves put up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to deliver a gut-wrenching loss for San Francisco, which is now 2.5 games behind the Snakes and five behind the Braves. The blown save was Wilson’s fifth of the season, which matches his total from all of last year. Wilson walked two in the ninth and now has 31 walks in 53.2 innings compared to 26 in 74.2 in 2010. He's allowed six earned runs in 2.1 innings (23.14 ERA) of two appearances against the Braves this season, and only 13 earned runs in 51.1 innings (2.28 ERA) against everyone else. Wilson said his back was not an issue against the Braves, but it makes you wonder if he’s available tonight. The Giants have lost the first game in eight straight series.
Giants at Braves Betting Story Lines
San Francisco’s offense is one of the worst in the majors as it is, but it will be without both Beltran and Sandoval tonight. Beltran, who has been mostly a disappointment since coming over from the Mets at the trade deadline, missed his seventh straight start on Monday with a sprained wrist. He could land on the disabled list, with a decision likely today. Beltran is hitting just.244 with two RBI in 11 games for San Francisco.
Sandoval, or ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (best nickname in baseball by far), fouled a ball off his right foot on Monday and had to be removed from the game. X-rays were negative, but he’s expected to miss a game or two. He leads the National League's lowest-scoring club with a .309 batting average and a .515 slugging percentage. Mike Fontenot replaced Sandoval on Monday.
In addition, valuable Giants set-up man Sergio Romo is likely to go on the DL on Tuesday. An elbow injury has kept him out for a week. Romo has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in MLB at 13.25:1 and among the NL relief leaders in ERA (1.67) and opponents' batting average (.154).
As for Atlanta, Chipper Jones didn’t start Monday after he jammed his knee in Sunday’s game – the same knee on which he had season-ending ACL surgery last August. An MRI conducted Monday afternoon revealed no structural damage. Chipper is ‘iffy’ again tonight. Jones has started only six of the Braves’ past 32 games because of injury.
Giants at Braves Probable Pitchers
Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (4-7, 4.29) faces Braves right-hander Randall Delgado (0-1, 6.75). Sanchez left after just 4 1/3 innings when he gave up five runs (four earned) in his last start against the Pirates. Sanchez is 0-4 with a 6.14 ERA in six starts since beating St. Louis on June 2, and he's failed to complete five innings in each of the last four. Delgado is being recalled from Triple-A to take the rotation spot of Tommy Hanson, who is on the disabled list. Delgado has thrown 13 scoreless inning since being promoted to Triple-A. He is expected to be sent right back down after the start.
MLB Picks: Giants at Braves Odds, Trends and Predictions
Atlanta is at -145 on Bodog with the total at 8.5. The Braves have won 11 of the last 15 regular-season meetings with the Giants, including six in a row for the longest winning streak in the series since Atlanta won 12 straight bridging 1994 and '95.
The Giants are 0-6 in their past six as a dog. The Braves are 7-2 in their past nine as a favorite. The ‘over’ is 8-1 in the Giants’ past nine as a road dog. The ‘over’ is 5-0 in Atlanta’s past five.
I rarely like to recommend favorites in MLB, but every single possible number seems to scream Atlanta here, plus with the Giants not having their two best hitters and possibly their closer tonight that makes this pick look even stronger. Sanchez will be motivated to pitch well as his spot in the rotation is in jeopardy if he doesn’t. And the Giants don’t know much about Delgado. So take the Braves and the ‘under’.
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