ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball – Nationals at Reds

All eyes will be on the Nationals rookie starter making his ninth start of the 2010 season.

Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

Washington’s furious comeback fell short in a 8-7 road defeat to the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park, in a game that was interrupted for three hours in the middle of the fifth inning by rain.  The Nationals have now dropped four straight since tonight’s starter toed the rubber.  With 94 games filed away, the team’s 40 wins to date is far better than the 27 victories the team garnered at this point last season.  Prop bettors need to take notice that the club has plated the first run in 15 of their last 18 contests dating back to June 28.  After starting 9-7 on the road this season, the Nationals are 6-26 away in their last 32 games away from Washington, DC.  The team has played just seven road games the past three years with a total of 7 or less, with six of those games taking place this season (3-3, +150).

Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg is 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA in eight starts this season and comes in with a two-game winning streak.  The right-hander has allowed just a single run and seven hits over 12 innings of work in victories against the San Francisco Giants and Florida Marlins.  He is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in three road starts, allowing just a single home run in 17.2 frames.  Washington has been streaky in Strasburg’s starts, winning his first two appearances followed by a three-game losing streak, only to return to the current two-game streak.  In three July starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA, striking out 20 batters and issuing just seven walks.

Cincinnati has won four of five games since the All-Star break and are currently just a half game back of the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.  “That was near disaster,” manager Dusty Baker said about almost giving up an 8-1 lead last night.  “It’s a win, but boy, games like this test your heart and test your everything.”  The Reds are 9-7 this month (+250), as the team looks to post its fourth straight winning month.  Baker’s club went 12-11 in April, 18-11 in May and 14-13 in June.  Cincinnati’s offense leads the National League in hitting, runs hits and RBIs.

Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo is 10-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 19 starts this season and is enjoying a three-game winning streak.  In those three games, the right-hander has allowed just three earned runs and 14 hits in 21 innings, with the club outscoring the competition by a 18-3 margin.  He is 4-2 with a 4.01 ERA in nine home starts, issuing 24 walks and striking out 28 batters in 60.2 innings.  In seven career starts against the Nationals, Arroyo has compiled a 3-1 record and 3.16 ERA.  Despite not gaining a decision, he led Cincinnati to a 5-4 road win over Washington on June 6, giving up two runs and six hits over eight strong innings.

Bettors need to pay attention to the Reds 0-2 record when the total is 7 or less this season and 1-7 mark in the situation the last three years (-460).  Cincinnati is also 1-4 in  its last five games as a home underdog.  Playing the Nationals is no sure thing, but the team is 5-2 in Strasburg’s starts as a favorite.

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