Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview and Pick – Harang vs. Carpenter

Cincinnati Reds (28-24) Aaron Harang +169, 7 O/U at St. Louis
Cardinals (30-23) Chris Carpenter -179, 7 O/U, Busch Stadium, St.
Louis, Mo., 8:15 PM EST, Thursday

by Badger of

The Cincinnati Reds hope to slip out of Busch Stadium Thursday night
with a series victory over their National League Central rival St.
Louis Cardinals in the finale of a four-game set, but standing in
their way is the Cards ace Chris Carpenter.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Aaron Harang as they look to
take three out of four from the Cards and move one game closer to
them in the NL Central standings.

The Reds took game three of the series last night with a 9-3 victory
when righty Johnny Cueto allowed only one run in the first six
innings of the game. The Cards on the other hand were forced to play
Johnny Wholestaff with their bullpen last night when starter Kyle
Lohse only pitched two innings. Blaine Boyer ate up five innings in
relief, but the Cards pen will need another gem out of Carpenter

Oddsmakers opened Carpenter and St. Louis as large -180 favorites on
the moneyline and its held firm, dropping just a few points if at all
to St. Louis -179. The Reds with Harang are listed as +169 underdogs,
with the over/under total listed at 7 or 7.5 runs depending on which
offshore sportsbook you wager with these days.

Carpenter, with the exception of the few weeks he spent on the DL
with a pulled oblique, has been true to his old Cy Young form. For
the season he has been dealing (3-0, 0.62 ERA, 0.72 WHIP), but he
hasnt always gotten run support which is why the Cards are only 3-2
in his five starts in 2009.

Two outing ago he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against
Milwaukee, only to lose the game 1-0 when Yovani Gallardo outdueled
him. Last time out he finally got some run support, as the Cards
scored six in a 6-2 victory over Barry Zito and the Giants. In that
game Carpenter had his worst outing of the season, giving up two
run on six hits and a walk in six innings.

For his career, Carpenter is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA in nine starts
against the Reds. Those numbers certainly dont look impressive, but
when you look at the fact the Reds only hit .203 off of him with a
measly .242 on-base percentage, Carpenters dominance gains perspective.

Harang has been mediocre overall this season, as his 5-5 record with
a 4.19 ERA indicates. On the surface it looks like hes done well of
late, seeing that hes won two of his last three starts, but his WHIP
(1.78 26 H, 3 BB, 16.1 IP) and ERA (6.61) tell it hes been lucky
more than good. His last outing he was shelled for 12 hits and eight
runs in just 4.1 innings of work against the Brewers.

Harang is 7-9 with a 4.62 ERA in his 19 career starts versus the
rival Cardinals. The Cards do all right against Harang as they hit .
267 as a team in those starts and have a .319 on-base percentage as

One factor to keep on eye on tonight is how far each starter can go.
Both bullpens have been taxed throughout this series (Reds Volquez
went one inning Tuesday, Lohse just two last night), so an inning-
eating performance would be clutch for both teams. Carpenter has gone
at least five in all but his injury game this season, while Harang
has lasted only 5 and 4.1 his last two outings.

The over has been the best bet in this head-to-head series of late,
cashing in at a clip of 8-2 the last 10 meetings, but its actually
the under that is 8-1 in the last nine games played at Busch Stadium.

The Cards also seem to play well on get-away-day Thursdays, as they
are 10-1 in their last 11 Thursday games.

Badgers Pick: I like Carpenter here, but at -179 it is a lot of wood
to lay to win. The Cards pound Harang again, and both bullpens give
up just a few late runs to push this game over 7 or 7.5. Find a sportsbook with the total listed at 7 and take the over.