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D-BACKS TRY TO TAKE GIANTS’ TOP SPOT IN NL WEST
Wed, 29 Jun 2011 02:12 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (37-29)

at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (37-30)

First pitch: Tuesday, 9:40 p.m. EDT
Line: Arizona -115, San Francisco +105, Total: 7.5

Look whose stalking who?

On Friday May 13, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Dodgers to fall to 15-22 and just ½-game out of last place in the NL West. They trailed the defending World Series champion Giants by 5.5 games and were showing few signs of being a contender. That was then. Twenty-two wins and eight losses later, this is now. The D-backs now trail first place San Francisco by a mere half-game, and will see how they measure up against the battered and bruised champs when they begin a three-game series in Phoenix on Tuesday night. Baseball scores.

Arizona will send surprising rookie Josh Collmenter (4-1) to the mound. Collmenter has appeared in 13 games overall, and will be making his seventh start for the team. For the season he has an amazing 1.12 ERA, a figure that becomes even more miniscule when you consider that in his six starts, his ERA is 1.05. In two home starts, Collmenter has pitched 13 innings and has not allowed a run. His K-to-BB ratio for the season is 30 strikeouts against seven walks. He has only allowed 28 hits in 48.1 innings, and as small as his ERA is, his WHIP of 0.73 might be even more impressive. Opponents are hitting just .163 against him. The Giants will be facing him for the first time, and they will notice that Collmenter has an unorthodox delivery that makes some pitches appear harder than they appear. “You look at the radar gun,” manager Kirk Gibson told MLB.com, “and his ball comes out much faster than the radar gun says, just because he throws with so much deception. We’ve all seen those guys who throw 97 [mph] and get lit up. So there’s a lot to be said for the other elements that make a pitcher successful. And Collmenter possesses those up to this point.”

The Diamondbacks have won four of five and are coming off a big offensive night and series against the Marlins. Arizona scored 30 runs against the Marlins over four games, a dozen of those runs came in Monday night’s 12-9 slugfest over Florida in which the D-backs collected 14 hits. Arizona, which is in the top 10 in the league in runs scored, tallied nine of those runs in the first three innings.

The struggling Giants, who are hitting .230 as a team, almost rock-bottom in the league in BA, are in dire need of offense on the heels of losing Buster Posey for the season, and most recently losing leading hitter Freddy Sanchez for what could be an extended period of time due to a gruesome shoulder injury. Luckily for San Francisco, Pablo Sandoval (hand) is scheduled to return from the DL for Tuesday’s game. The 24-year-old Sandoval had a down year in 2009 (.268 BA, 13 HR, 63 RBI in 152 games), but started 2010 red-hot, batting .313 with 5 HR and 14 RBI in just 24 games. Baseball odds.

Right now San Francisco’s best offense might be a great pitching effort, which is what Matt Cain will try and deliver for them. Cain is 5-4 on the year with an ERA (3.36), which looks monstrous next to Collmenter’s 1.12 mark. Cain has won two of his last three starts, including his most recent outing, a complete game 3-1 victory over the Nationals, in which he allowed just five hits, one earned run and struck out 11. Cain has enjoyed considerable success in 19 career starts against Arizona, going 8-4 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Cain has won his past two outings versus the D-backs, including victories he earned just this past April and May.

Other than the returning Sandoval, the team’s top offensive threat is Aubrey Huff, who leads the Giants in HR (8) and RBI (34). The Giants are not looking for a slugfest. The 30 runs that Arizona produced during a long four-game set in South Florida over the weekend exceeds the 24 runs that San Francisco has tallied in its past 10 games. Bruce Bochy’s team would rather get caught up in a pitchers duel, one in which Cain shuts down Arizona like he has in the past.

The pick here is for the defending champs to figure out the mystery of Josh Collmenter and prevail in a low scoring contest. The FoxSheets provide three more highly-rated reasons to take underdog San Francisco, which is 31-11 (+18.3 Units) in the past three seasons versus Arizona.

Play On – All underdogs with a money line of +100 to +150 (SAN FRANCISCO) – allowing 3.8 or less runs/game on the season (NL) against opponent with a hot starting pitcher- WHIP <= 1.000 over his last 3 starts. (43-23 over the last 5 seasons.) (65.2%, +29.5 units. Rating = 3*).

SAN FRANCISCO is 70-34 (67.3%, +36.6 Units) against the money line with an on-base percentage of .310 or worse over their last 20 games over the last 2 seasons. The average score was SAN FRANCISCO 4.0, OPPONENT 2.8 – (Rating = 3*). Baseball spreads.

Play Against – Any team (ARIZONA) – average offensive team (4.3 to 4.8 runs/game) against a good starter (ERA<=3.70) (NL), with a starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.050 or better on the season-NL. (61-37 over the last 5 seasons.) (62.2%, +35.1 units. Rating = 3*).


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