Philadelphia Phillies (12-10) Joe Blanton +135, 9 O/U at St. Louis Cardinals (17-8) Kyle Lohse, -145, 9 O/U, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo., 8:15 PM EST, Monday
by Badger of Predictem.com
Two of the top teams in the National League will try and stay at the top of their respective divisions when they tangle in the opening game of a short two-game series tonight at Busch Stadium, when the St. Louis Cardinals send ace Kyle Lohse out to the mound versus Philadelphia Phillies counterpart Joe Blanton.
Both teams are coming off of successful runs last week that ended one game short when both were rained out of yesterdays contests.
The Phillies, who are 6-2 in their last eight games, were rained out of their finale versus their NL East rivals New York Mets yesterday. They split the first two games of the Mets series, took two of three versus Washington the series before, and swept the Florida Marlins to start the week, so the Phillies will be trying to keep the good momentum rolling tonight against the Cards.
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The Cardinals are coming back to Busch off the heels of a successful 4-2 road trip to the East Coast. They also split the first two games of their series against Washington before yesterdays rainout, and took two of three against the Atlanta Braves the series prior.
Baseball oddsmakers opened the game with St. Louis and Lohse as -145 favorites on the moneyline, with Philly and Blanton as +135 underdogs. But questions about the health of Cards slugger Albert Pujols (he sat out Saturdays game) has prompted just about every offshore sportsbook to take the game off the board as of press time. The few that have the game still on the board (Pinnacle) still list the Cards as -135 to -155 favorites.
The over/under total opened at 9 and is still listed at 9 if you can find it on the board somewhere.
The rainouts yesterday changed both teams pitching rotations for tonights game. What was supposed to be a Cole Hammels-vs.-Adam Wainwright matchup tonight was changed when both Blanton and Lohse were bumped back a day instead.
The Phillies are hoping they get the Blanton that handcuffed the Cardinals in his only career appearance against them last year, as opposed to the one that has struggled in his last three games this year.
Last August Blanton went seven innings and allowed only four hits and one run in a 2-1 victory over the Cards. But that performance is not how Blanton has been pitching of late, as he is 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA (24 H, 5 BB, 12 R, 16.1 IP) in his last three starts. His last start against the Nationals was perhaps his worst as a Phillie, as he went only 4.1 innings giving up 8 hits, 3 walks and 6 runs in a no-decision in the Phillies 13-11 win last Monday.
Lohse has been the Cards most consistent starter this season, compiling a 3-0 record with a 1.97 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. But hes struggled a little of late as hes given up 17 hits, 7 walks and 6 runs in his last three starts combined, and the Cards have lost two of those three starts. In five career starts against the Phillies he is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA, a 1.071 WHIP and a low .269 opponents on-base percentage.
Lohse did fare very well against the Phillies last year, as he outdueld Hammels last August at Busch in a 6-3 Cardinals win, and beat them in June when he beat Adam Eaton in a 3-2 Cards victory.
Offensively both teams are top-5 in multiple categories. The Phillies are 3rd in the league in runs scored at 5.86 per game, but the Cards are 6th at 5.6 per game. The Cards hit better (.280 5th) than the Phillies (.267 12th), but both have top-5 OPS numbers (.810) and both are very capable of hitting homeruns, as the Phillies are 5th in MLB with 31 and the Cards are 10th with 29 as a team.
Since Blanton has only one start against the Cards, hitting stats against him are small samples. Ryan Ludwick hit a solo homerun as the only run they got against him, but he did control Pujols (BB, 0-for-2) in his only action against the perennial MVP candidate.
Lohse has also done a great job of controlling the tough Phillies lineup. Jimmy Rollins (.133), Chase Utley (.167) and Shane Victorino (.100) have all struggled mightily against him, and Ryan Howard has hit just .286 with no extra-base hits. New leftfielder Raul Ibanez is the main threat to Lohse tonight, as he is 6-for-24 against him lifetime with three homeruns.
The Phillies have played well at Busch, winning 12 of the last 17 games played in St. Louis. They did however split last years series with them 3-3.
The under is 4-1-1 in the last six games between these two, but that was because all three games in Philly last year came in under the total. At Busch, the over has been the better play with a 3-2-1 record.
Badgers Pick: The unexpected day off yesterday will help both lineups tonight, as I see the ball going all over the yard tonight. I also like Lohse at home. Take the Cardinals at -135 in a game that should go over the total.