ATLANTA BRAVES (71-53)
at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (69-55)
First pitch: Thursday, 10:15 p.m. EDT
Line: Atlanta -110, San Francisco +100, Total: 7Ĺ
Currently holding one of the NL Wild Card spots, the Braves will travel to San Francisco Thursday to begin a four-game set with the leader in the NL West.
Atlanta enters as a slight road favorite with Tommy Hanson on the mound, who has led the Braves to victory in 11 of his past 12 starts. This includes team wins in six consecutive starts, with Hanson sporting a 3-0 record in that span despite only making it through six innings twice. Overall he has a 12-5 record in 2012 (team is 17-6) with an uninspiring 4.27 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. On Thursday, heíll be opposed by lefty Barry Zito, who has similar numbers this year with a 4.42 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, but carries a 9-8 record (team is 13-11). Although the Giants have won his past three starts, Zito has an inflated 5.62 ERA in that span. But there is no team Zito likes to face as much as the Braves, against whom he is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in six career starts. With Atlanta struggling to generate offense, scoring a paltry 2.4 runs per game during a current 1-4 slide, and the Giants allowing the fewest runs of any NL team in their own ballpark (3.2 runs per game), take SAN FRANCISCO as the home underdogs here.
These two FoxSheets managerial trends also favor the Giants:
GONZALEZ is 36-44 (45.0%, -19.0 Units) against the money line after 2 or more consecutive unders as the manager of ATLANTA. The average score was ATLANTA 4.0, OPPONENT 4.1 - (Rating = 1*).
GONZALEZ is 21-29 (42.0%, -15.5 Units) against the money line vs. NL teams allowing 4.3 or less runs/game in the second half of the season as the manager of ATLANTA. The average score was ATLANTA 3.3, OPPONENT 4.4 - (Rating = 1*).
Atlanta had lost four games in a row, but snapped that with a 5-1 win against the Nationals on Wednesday. Overall, the Braves are better away from Turner Field, sporting a 35-24 (.593) record on the road, the second-best mark in the majors. They have also owned NL West opponents in 2012 with a 15-8 (.652) record against them. Over the past three years, Atlanta is 12-9 against the Giants, including 5-3 on the road. Like Zito versus the Braves, Hanson also carries a strong record against his opponent. In four career starts versus the Giants, he is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. The most recent of those was a seven-inning performance last season in which he allowed just one run on three hits, with seven strikeouts in a 4-1 win. The Braves are 9-3 in Hansonís dozen road starts this year, where he carries a solid 3.78 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
Zitoís last start against the Braves came earlier this season on July 17 when he pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He has not lost to Atlanta since June 12, 2003, lasting seven innings in four consecutive starts against the Braves, allowing a total of three runs with 23 Kís in these 28 innings. That should help the San Francisco bullpen, which has a 3.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 2012, notching 39 saves in 51 chances (77%). The bullpen is much better at home, however, where it has a 3.05 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. The Giants are hot, coming off a 5-1 road trip including a sweep of their rival Dodgers, and appear poised to build on that here.