Cardinals & Giants In ESPN Prime-Time Clash

By: Willie Bee | Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ESPN was undoubtedly hoping to have a little more name recognition in the starting pitching matchup when scheduling the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals for Wednesday night's prime-time broadcast.  Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, perhaps, against either Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum of the Giants would've gotten the public's attention.

Instead, Ryan Vogelsong gets the call for San Francisco while Joe Kelly takes the mound for St. Louis.  But what the two lack in notoriety, they've made up for with some solid pitching of late, and the game definitely has history in the Cards-Giants rivalry to fall back on in addition to the importance in the current National League standings.

First pitch from Busch Stadium will be around 8:15 p.m. (ET), and early odds have the Redbirds priced at -120.  An 8½-run total is going to cost $1.15 or more to the 'over.'

The odds are partly a reflection of the direction the two teams have been going the past couple of weeks.  San Fran has dropped seven of its last 11 following Monday's 8-2 setback to the Cardinals in the series opener.  The victory was St. Louis' 10th in its last 13, and 13th of the last 17 trips to the diamond.

San Francisco was nursing a slim half-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West heading into Tuesday's second game, while the Cardinals were six back of the Cincinnati Reds in the Central and in third place.  St. Louis was a heavy $2.00 favorite to keep the wins coming in a pitching matchup between Lance Lynn and Barry Zito.

Vogelsong has put up one solid outing after another to help the Giants to a 14-6 record in his 20 assignments.  Any bettor who has been following the righty in 2012 is smiling at the nearly nine units of profit earned.  Though his numbers away from AT&T Park aren't up to par with his home stats, he still owns a respectable road ERA of 3.60 with San Francisco 6-3 in the contests.

In fact, the biggest news of Vogelsong's last road performance was it stopped a string of quality starts that dated to April 26, a span of 16 games.  But four runs allowed over 6-1/3 innings at Coors Field, as he posted this past Friday, will count as a quality start to manager Bruce Bochy any day, and the final result was a victory for both Vogelsong and the Giants.

Kelly also grabbed a dubya last Friday as the Cards popped the Milwaukee Brewers, 9-3.  The rookie had to come out before he finished the sixth frame, but it halted a string of three losing starts, all of which were quality efforts.  Kelly didn't get rattled early on when the Brew Crew knocked him around to score all three of their runs in the second, and that might have been the most impressive part of the game for a hurler with just 10 career starts under his belt.

This will be Kelly's first crack at the Giants, and only the second time Vogelsong has seen the Cardinals since the 2006 campaign.  He endured some rocky performances vs. St. Louis in his early days while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but tossed five pretty good innings at Busch in May 2011 and allowed just a single run.  Vogelsong didn't figure into the decision which went the way of the Cards thanks to a late uprising.

Monday's win gave the Cardinals a short 2-1 edge in the season series and left the two squads a level 10-10 in Archway City since the present version of Busch Stadium opened in 2006.  Game 1 busted the 8-run total, the fifth time in six games played in St. Louis that 'over' bettors went home happy.

Veteran Tim McClelland is in line to call balls and strikes on Wednesday, and given his past in prime-time games, one can't help but wonder if some rhubarb might erupt over a controversial call.  McClelland's previous plate assignments in 2012 are divided 11-11 'over/under' with two 'pushes.'

The weatherman is calling for temperatures to climb into the upper-90s during the day in St. Louis, with plenty of humidity and a 40 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms in the evening.

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