National League Playoff Betting: Philadelphia Phillies and Saint Louis Cardinals Meet for Game Three

Ryan Howard only managed 1 hit in Game Two, but it drove in two runs
Philadelphia Phillies AT Saint Louis Cardinals
October 4th, 2011 @ 5 PM EST
Betting Line: PHI -140, STL +120
Over/Under: 7 runs
Series Tied 1-1
SP: PHI- Cole Hamels; STL- Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals struck first blood in Saturday night’s game, as Lance Berkman nailed a home run over the right field fence, driving in both Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols. Unfortunately, the Cardinals would not see themselves score again until the 9th inning, and it was too little too late.

In the 6th Inning, the Phillies too control, as both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez homered, driving in 5 runs between them, giving the Phillies a 6-3 lead going into the 7th inning. They came back to answer with 5 more runs in the 7th and 8th inning, and recorded twice as many hits (14) as Saint Louis did (7).

The Cards came back to take Game 2 with a 5-4 win Monday night.

The Cardinals are going to have to get more from their lineup tonight than they did in Game one, and possibly than they did in game two. Run support is huge against the Phillies, and only Berkman had a multiple hit Saturday night, while three managed to get multiple hits in game 2 (Rafael Furcal, Pujols, and Theriot). Furcal is going to have to get on base to spark the offense. He went 1 for 4 Saturday, but hit .315 on the season, playing in only 75 games due to injury. He also left three batters on base in Game 2, which could be a problem for the Cardinals because they have to capitalize on all opportunties against a more talented team like the Phillies.

In hopes of a repeat performance, the Phillies will send 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to the mound. Hamels finished the season 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA and 194 Ks in 216 innings. Best of all, his WHIP (Hits per Inning) is under 1.00. If he just pitches to his ability, it will give the Cards all kinds of problems.

Hamels made one appearance against the Cardinals this year, on September 18th, when he gave up 4 earned runs and 2 homers in 7 innings of pitching in a 5-0 loss. Five runs may or may not be too many to give up, because a pitcher can’t always count on run support, but if last game was any idication, he may get a lot of run support.

Despite that semi-poor outing, he received high praise from teammate Hunter Pence, who said he has “that put em away instinct…big moment pitcher.” Hamels is certainly not one to back from a challenge, for sure, and even the big bat of Pujols will not intimdate Hamels. Hamels remarked, “Every time I go out I try to win….I know I have a job to do.”

Taking care of that job is only half the battle for the Phillies, who will contribute to Hamels’ success by virtue of their number one ranked fielding in the league. Pence feels that not only Hamels, but the entire team, has a lot of “confidence and (a lot) of calmness.”

The extra day layoff between games will have served the Cardinals well, as they had to go six deep into their pen last game. Garcia was pretty solid this year with a 13-7 record and 3.56 ERA. He closed out the season in spectacular fashion, winning all three decisions and recording a 2.64 ERA. For his career against the Phillies he is 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA, while holding batters to a very impressive .178 BA

Garcia won his lone appearance against the Phillies in the regular season, by giving up only 1 earned run in 7 innings, while only walking two. If he can control his pitches well and prevent deep balls, the Cardinals should be able to back him with sold enough defense. And then if not, the Cards can go to their pen, which has proved a reliable option this season. With eight quality starts (ER < 3.0, IP 7+), it is possible that they don’t need to go the pen that quickly or as much as the night wears on.

Ryan Howard summed it up best by commenting that Garcia has a “kind of weird release” and also noting that he mixes up his pitch types with brilliance

One big negative for the Cards is that they are still going to be without their best hitter in Matt Holliday. His middle finger is still swollen and has little flexibility, making it impossible for him to function on the field. For a series they were already expected by most fans and Vegas Oddsmakers to lose, not having Holliday only increases that likelihood further.

With two strong pitchers meeting, who have both had great success against their respective oppositions, the ‘under’ on the total is tempting to touch, however with the possibility of either lineup getting hot and cranking out a huge inning (especially when relievers enter the game) with potent offenses like these two teams, I would advise staying away from betting the total at all.

With the series back in Saint Louis, the Cardinals will be able to escape the deafening noise of the Phillies’ crowd. The Cards won half of their 90 games at home, and though they are good on the road, it makes a bigger difference to be at home in the playoffs, when the upper tiers of the stadium are full with raucous fans. Look for the Cardinals to feed off the energy of their home crowd and possibly rally for a big inning, while hoping that Garcia’s pitching against the Phillies remains as solid as it has been in the recent past.

Share This Post

The information contained at this site is for entertainment purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of any state, federal, or local laws is prohibited.
Copyright © - Premier Sports Picks and Sports Odds Web site