Cardinals at Nationals Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/22/2013
The last time the St. Louis Cardinals were on the field at Nationals Park, it was one of the most memorable wins in team and baseball history. In the deciding Game 5 of last year's National League Division Series, the wild-card Cardinals were down 6-0 to the NL East champion Nats after just three innings. Washington still led 7-5 entering the top of the ninth and closer Drew Storen was a strike away -- twice -- from finishing the series. However, he walked both Yadier Molina and David Freese before total unknown David Descalso hit a two-run single to tie it. The next batter, Peter Kozma, then also hit a two-run single that gave the Cards a 9-7 lead that closer Jason Motte would close in the bottom of the inning.
It was the biggest comeback win ever in a winner-take-all playoff game. The previous mark was four runs, by the Yankees over the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (the Aaron "f*#*#&&* Boone game) and the Pirates over the Washington Senators in the Game 7 of the 1925 World Series. Only four teams ever had come back from a six-run deficit to win any playoff game. Thus, the Nats can get a small dose of payback when they open a three-game series against the Cardinals on Monday. It's their only visit of the season, although I don't think it would surprise anyone if the teams faced off again in D.C. this October.
Cardinals at Nationals Betting Story Lines
The Nationals completed a six-game road trip to Miami and the Mets by alternating wins and losses. They were blanked 2-0 in Sunday's finale at Citi Field. Bryce Harper was a quiet 1-for-3 a day after hitting two homers and knocking in three. He's tied for second in the NL with seven dingers and is fifth in batting at .369. So much for a sophomore slump. Washington lost star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to a hamstring injury on Saturday, and he's on the 15-day DL. He was hitting .226 with a homer and 11 RBI. Top prospect Anthony Rendon will man the hot corner for now. The 2011 No. 6 overall pick was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and an error in his big-league debut Sunday.
St. Louis finished a four-game series in Philadelphia on Sunday night. Carlos Beltran entered that one on a roll, homering in the previous three games. It was his first three-game homer streak in six years. Beltran has 338 career homers, tied with injured Yankee Mark Teixeira for the sixth-most all-time by a switch-hitter. The biggest surprise on the team has been 24-year-old first baseman Matt Adams. He's hitting .524 with three homers and eight RBI in part-time duty. He can't get full-time at-bats because of Allen Craig ahead of him.
The starters for this one are Nats offseason acquisition Dan Haren against one of the majors' top young pitching prospects, Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller. Haren was set to be traded to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol by the Angels, but that fell through, and the Halos bought out his contract. The Nats signed him for a one-year, $13 million deal essentially to replace Edwin Jackson (who, ironically, signed with the Cubs). Haren (1-2, 8.10) hasn't been good, yet to last more than five innings in his first three starts. He has given up 26 hits in 13.1 innings. Pitching coach Steve McCatty believes Haren is trying to throw too hard and hasn't used his curveball. Haren has thrown 50 percent fastballs this season compared to about 40 percent last year. Haren didn't face the Cards in 2012 but is 4-0 in his career against them. Beltran is hitting .316 with a homer off Haren, while Matt Holliday has gone yard twice in 21 at-bats against him.
Miller (2-1, 1.96) won the Cards' fifth rotation spot with a good spring, beating out Joe Kelly. He was impressive as a late-season call-up a year ago. The 22-year-old hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his three starts this year. He has never faced the Nats.
Washington won four of seven regular-season meetings with St. Louis before that NLDS matchup. Harper hit well against St. Louis in 2012, batting .429 with two homers. Beltran fared well against the Nats, hitting .286 with two homers and seven RBI.
Cardinals at Nationals Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Nats opened at -110 and the Cardinals at +100 with the total at 8. The Cardinals (entering Sunday) are 8-8-1 “over/under” (5-5-1 on road) and 11-6 on the runline. Washington is 11-6-1 O/U (4-4-1 at home) and 8-10 on the runline.
The Cardinals are 4-0 in their past four as a dog. They are 1-4 in their past five Monday games. The Nats are 5-1 in their past six home games following a road trip of at least seven days. They are 2-5 in their past seven vs. a right-handed starter. The under is 9-3-1 in the Cardinals' past 13 series openers. the over is 10-4 in the Cards' past 14 as a road dog. The over is 9-4 in Washington's past 13 against a righty starter. The over is 12-3 in the past 15 meetings. Washington has won nine of the past 12 meetings at home.
Cardinals at Nationals Picks and Betting Predictions
Should Washington have a save opportunity Monday, it won't go to closer Rafael Soriano (six saves). He is expected to be placed on the paternity list Monday and be up to three games. Storen presumably would close in his place. The Nats' bullpen was expected to be one of the best in the majors but has the second-worst ERA in baseball. Storen has a 7.11 ERA in six appearances. That Washington hasn't seen Miller should be an advantage for the pitcher. Add that to the fact that Soriano is out, and I like St. Louis here even with the late night of travel. Also the under.
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