LOS ANGELES DODGERS (73-65)
at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (77-60)
First pitch: Friday, 10:15 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco -115, Los Angeles +105, Total: 7
With a 4Ĺ-game lead in the NL West, the Giants will host the second-place Dodgers for a three-game set beginning Friday night.
Both teams enter this series having won three games in a row then losing their most recent two. And both teams will trot out starters who were once phenoms, but have seen better times. Josh Beckett takes the hill for the Dodgers with a 6-12 record in 2012, sporting a 5.03 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Since being traded to the Dodgers, he is 1-1 with 15 strikeouts in 12.1 innings, sporting a much more Beckett-like 2.92 ERA. He faces Tim Lincecum, who has a 5.21 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 8-14 record this year. But he is much better at home, where he has a 4.01 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Although the Giants have held on admirably since Melky Cabrera was suspended for steroids (13-7 record), the Dodgers are just starting to gel with their new acquisitions, led by Hanley Ramirez, who has 37 RBI in 40 games since being acquired from the Marlins. And San Francisco is not playing well in its home ballpark, going 7-14 in its past 21 games at AT&T Park. As slight underdogs, take LOS ANGELES in this one.
This pair of three-star FoxSheets trends also favor the Dodgers:
Play On - Any team (L.A. DODGERS) - revenging a 3 game sweep at the hands of their opponents, off a loss to a division rival as a favorite. (37-15 over the last 5 seasons.) (71.2%, +27 units. Rating = 3*).
Play Against - Any team (SAN FRANCISCO) - average offensive team (4.3 to 4.8 runs/game) against an average starter (ERA=4.20 to 5.20)-NL, with a starting pitcher whose ERA is 5.20 to 5.70 on the season (NL). (43-19 over the last 5 seasons.) (69.4%, +25.3 units. Rating = 3*).
The Dodgers have lost two straight, scoring three runs in each game despite garnering 10 hits in each contest. This makes four consecutive games in which they notched double-digit hits, but they have left 9, 8, 9 and 9 runners on base in these contests. Beckett is just 4-4 in his career against San Francisco, but has pitched quite well in those outings, though none of them have come since 2005. In his eight career starts, he has a 3.04 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He goes relatively deep into games, with 6.1 innings per start, but has adequate support by the L.A. bullpen that has a 3.37 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the season. The Dodgers pen is much weaker on the road however, where they have a 4.33 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.
These two teams are 3-3 against each other in San Francisco this year, though the Giants have won seven of 12 overall meetings including a sweep in L.A. the last time these teams squared off from Aug. 20-22. The Giants have a slight 13-11 advantage at home over the past three years versus Los Angeles. Lincecum, who has a 2-1 record and 3.18 ERA in his past three starts, will be thrilled to see the Dodgers. He has a 2.82 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in his career against them with a 6-5 record (team is 10-7). This includes a dominant past two starts against San Francisco this year, in which he allowed just one earned run and nine hits in 12.2 innings, striking out 12. Although Lincecum averages just 5.6 innings per start, he is supported by a bullpen that has a 3.36 ERA and 1.29 WHIP this year. He will need the offense to improve off its four-hit, two-run game from Wednesday, but considering the Giants score mere 3.5 runs per game at home (3rd-lowest in majors), Lincecum canít bank on a ton of run support.