St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies Preview and Pick

St. Louis Cardinals (22-12) Adam Wainwright +105, 9 O/U at
Colorado Rockies (12-21) Jeff Francis -125, 9 O/U, Coors Field,
8:35 PM EST, Wednesday

by Badger of

If history is any indication, Wednesday nights game three of the
four-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies
should be a pitchers duel between the Cards Adam Wainwright and
Rockies Jeff Francis.

Wainwright, who has emerged as the Cards most reliable and consistent
starter in 2008, has allowed just one earned run in 10.1 innings
versus the Rockies in his young career. Wainwright is 3-1 with a 2.60
ERA so far this season, but the Cards have won five of his six starts
this season including the last three in a row.

Francis, who has struggled so far in 2008 after pitching so well for
them down the stretch last season, has enjoyed facing the Cardinals
in his career. Francis is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in his two starts at
Coors Field versus the Cards. Those numbers are opposite of his
numbers this season so far (0-3, 5.26), but Francis has been the
victim of bad timing and low run support in many of his starts this
year as they are just 1-5 with Francis on the bump.

Most offshore sportsbooks opened the game with Francis and the Rockies as -125 chalks on the moneyline, while the Cardinals are
listed as slight +105 underdogs in the game. The over/under total for
the game opened at 9.

Despite both starting pitchers success against the opponent in their
careers, the oddsmakers line in this game is curious at first
glance. Its curious because these two teams are going in opposite
directions in the standings.

St. Louis, who most people figured would have a long year due to
pitching injuries and a no-name lineup, are 22-12 and just a half-
game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the best record in baseball.
The Cards have won eight of the last 10 games including the first two
games of the series at Coors.

Meanwhile, the Rockies are off to a 12-21 start this season, a season
most people figured would be a continuation of last years miracle
playoff run. The Rockies are in the midst of a huge slide, losing 13
of their last 16 games overall to tie the San Diego Padres for the
worst record in baseball.

Its no secret that as Albert Pujols goes, so go the Cards. Pujols is
picking up right where he left off last season with a .348 average
and 24 RBIs, but he is getting a lot of support from a few surprises
in the Cards lineup. Center fielder Rick Ankiel leads the team with
six homeruns (including one last night), and outfielder Ryan Ludwick
has hit safely in six straight games and is batting .349.

Colorado is struggling on offense, and is trying to cope with the
loss of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who is out till the All-Star break
with a torn quad muscle. Garrett Atkins (.319, 6 HR, 22 RBI) and Matt
Holliday (.305, 5 HR, 19 RBI) are swinging good sticks for the
Rockies, but they are about the only consistent threats in the
Rockies everyday lineup right now.

There are a few betting trends to keep an eye on in this game tonight.

The Cardinals enjoy the friendly air of Coors Field, as they are 11-5
in the light Rocky Mountain air since the 2004 season.

The Rockies are struggling no doubt, but the over is a strong 6-2 in
the last eight games at Coors as the favorite. The Cardinals have
gone over the total in six of their last eight versus NL West teams
as well, but their strong starting pitching this season so far has
kept them under the total in eight of their last 12 overall.

If this game goes according to the pitchers history, and the score
is still tight when it gets handed over to the bullpens, it favors
the Cardinals right now. The Rockies bullpen has a 5.40 ERA in their
last three games, compared to the Cards 3.38 mark over the same span.

Badgers Pick: Im quickly turning into a St. Louis believer this
year. I know that Francis is the Rockies ace, so he will be counted
on to stop the slide. But Wainwright is arguably the Cards ace too,
and I think the Cards are playing with supreme confidence right now.
Take St. Louis as the underdog tonight for the better value.