A battle of NL Central opponents is featured to close out the week of MLB action.
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee is playing the sixth game of its current seven-game road trip to Florida (1-3) and St. Louis (0-2). The Brewers placed themselves in an early hole by allowing four runs in the first inning in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals, as the team has allowed 49 runs in the first frame this season – the most of any inning. “There’s been a bunch of games when we’ve been behind,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “I’ve got no answers for that.” The team is getting use to the idea of scheduling left-handed starters in 2010, with Sunday’s matchup representing the 30th game they’ve scheduled a southpaw against the opposition. This represents a challenge against a Cardinals’ club that is 9-6 versus lefties this season (+80), but the total is 5-9-1 O/U in those games.
Brewers SP Manny Parra will be making his 20th appearance and third start of the season, going 1-3 with a 4.03 ERA. The left-hander made his first 15 appearances of the season out of the bullpen and also pitched in relief two times in between his last two starts. Parra is 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA as a reliever and has allowed four earned runs in seven innings for a 5.14 ERA as a starter. He gets the start due to it regularly being Dave Bush’s spot in the rotation, but the right-hander is a dismal 0-3 with a 10.57 ERA at Busch Stadium. Parra is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA in 12 games, including 10 starts against the Cardinals (+30), with a 2-0 mark and 2.86 ERA in five starts at the Cardinals home ball park.
St. Louis has won 9 of its last 11 games at home and the Cardinals are fourth in the National League in home winning percentage by producing a 19-9 record (+230). The Cardinals are in position to pick up their first home sweep of Milwaukee since April 2003, as they’ve won just five of their last 18 meetings against the Brewers at Busch Stadium. Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus has paced the offense recently, going 5-for-7 in the series with five RBIs. He may find his recent success difficult to duplicate on Sunday, as he’s 0-for-7 with three strikeouts against Parra in his career. St. Louis is outscoring opponents by a run and a half this season at home (5.0-3.5).
Cardinals SP Jaime Garcia is ready to make his second career start against the Brewers on national television, picking up a 7-1 road victory in his only previous outing against them. The left-hander allowed just a four hits and a single run over six innings of work in his season debut in that game on April 10. Garcia lowered his ERA to 1.32 with Monday’s win over the Reds, marking the lowest earned-run-average bye a NL rookie through his first 10 starts of a season since the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela had a 1.24 ERA in 1981 at that point. He is a perfect 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA in four home starts this season, but the Cards are just an even 2-2 in those games (-70).
The lines maker has placed the Cardinals as a -200+ favorite in this contest due to all the publicity that Garcia is receiving. It’s important to note that St. Louis is 14-4 as a home favorite of -200 to -225 (+540), but almost all of those victories have come with either Chris Carpenter of Adam Wainwright on the hill. Dog bettors don’t have much past experience to work with considering the Brewers are 2-3 (+60) as a road underdog of +175 to +200…..but then again that may be enough reason to take the leap.