New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview and Pick – John Maine vs. Joel Piniero

New York Mets (6-7) John Maine -108, 9.5 O/U at St. Louis
Cardinals (9-5) Joel Pineiro -102, 9.5 O/U, Busch Stadium, St.
Louis, Mo., 8:15 PM EST, Wednesday, ESPN

by Badger of

Two of the top offenses in baseball will square off on primetime
television tonight on ESPN when the New York Mets send right-hander
John Maine out to the mound to face the St. Louis Cardinals and
fellow righty Joel Pineiro.

These two teams played the opening game of their three-game series
last night, which turned into a 6-4 victory by the Cardinals. True to
form both teams rapped out 11 hits each in the game, but it was the
bullpens that proved to be the difference.

Surprisingly it was the Mets, who spent millions of dollars in the
offseason to fix their bullpen, whose pen fell apart when the Cards
scored two runs off of J.J. Putz in the eighth inning. The Cards, who
are already on their third closer this season alone, held their
breath as Ryan Franklin nailed down a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save
and preserve the win for the home team.

Baseball Bookies seem to be riding the fence on this game, as it
opened with both teams at -105 on the moneyline. Early betting has
moved the Mets and Maine into the larger favorite role, as they are
now listed as -108 favorites on the dimeline at, with the
Cards and Pineiro as -102 underdogs if you will. The over/under
total is listed at 9.5 at just about every online sportsbook that
offers a total on the game.

Both the Mets and Cardinals have been tearing the cover of the ball so far this season, as both teams are in the top five in team batting average. The Cards are currently ranked 2nd in MLB with a .291 team
average, while the Mets are ranked 4th with a .287 collective average.

The difference between the teams has been in slugging and turning
hits into runs. The Cards are 4th in OPS with a .855 tally, and are
scoring 5.93 runs per game (5th). The Mets, having played nearly half
of their games in their new spacious Citi Field, have suffered a
little as they have only hit nine homeruns as a team (27th), are
scoring just 4.54 runs per game (18th) and sport a .781 OPS as a team.

Both offenses should enjoy the pitching matchup tonight too, as
neither Maine nor Pineiro has been exceptionally sharp this season.

Pineiro has won both of his starts this year, but he has a 5.40 ERA,
a 1.80 WHIP and a .404 opponents on-base percentage. His last time
out he allowed nine hits, three walks and five runs versus the
Diamondbacks, but thanks to his powerful offense he still won the
game when the Cards drilled the D-Backs 12-7 last Wednesday.

Maine is 0-1 on the season, but the Mets have lost both of his starts
thanks in part to his 7.20 ERA. He gave up seven hits, three walks
and six runs in five innings of work last time out, which turned into
a 6-5 loss to San Diego.

Both starters have had limited exposure (and success) versus the opponent tonight as well.

Pineiro is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.588 WHIP and .333 opponents
batting average in three career starts against the Mets. Maine is 1-1
with a 5.62 ERA, a 1.313 WHIP and .230 OBA in three career starts
against the Cards.

As you would expect, the usual suspects have feasted on both pitchers
in those career starts as well.

Albert Pujols is hitting .444 (4-for-9) with two homeruns and nine
runs batting in versus Maine. Khalil Green and Yadier Molina (both 2-
for-6, .333) and Rick Ankiel (1-for-2 with a walk) have also had
success against Maine despite a small sample size.

For the Mets, Jose Reyes has gotten the best of Pineiro with a .667
(6-for-9) average, two doubles, a triple and a homerun. Carlos
Delgado (2 2B, HR, 6 RBI in 17 AB) and David Wright (4-for-8, .500)
also have had great success in limited samples versus Pineiro. Also,
dont be surprised if Mets manager Jerry Manuel finds a spot in the
lineup for Fernando Tatis, as Tatis is 2-for-3 with a double and two
walks against Pineiro in his career.

The Mets dont seem to like playing in St. Louis, as they are just
8-18 in the last 26 games in the Gateway City. Combine that with the
Cards 12-2 record at home over their last 14 games, and it makes you
wonder why the Mets are considered larger favorites in tonights game.

The over bet has a strong betting trend going for it right now too,
as the over is 6-0-1 in the last seven games head-to-head versus
these two and is 5-0-1 in the last six games played in St. Louis.

Badgers Pick: Nice weather, suspect pitching and deep lineups have
me leaning in the direction of the over tonight. Pineiro is better at
home than on the road, so Im leaning toward St. Louis as well. Take
St. Louis -102, and/or the over of 9.5 tonight.