Remember when the Los Angeles Dodgers started the season by winning their first 13 home games of the season, setting modern day record. Since then they are 15-13, still with the best overall home record, however, that could end tonight and the Dodgers have already been passed as the best bet to play in Major League Baseball by a fellow division rival.
The San Francisco Giants (45-37, +9.8 units) decided to retool what was the oldest team in the big leagues, infusing younger players with the end of the Barry Bonds era. The Giants front office was comfortable with their pitching staff, having Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum at the top of the rotation and Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez ready to emerge as youthful starters. They were supplemented with veterans Barry Zito and Randy Johnson, giving San Francisco a chance to be .500 team if the offense showed any life.
Though Sanchez and not worked out to this point, being replaced by 26-year old Ryan Sadowski at this moment, the Giants trail the Dodgers by seven games in the NL West, but have the second best record in the National League, thanks to pitching and home record. The Giants have the best ERA in the majors at 3.53 and are 27-13 at AT&T; Park, picking up +13 units for supporters.
San Francisco hurlers lead baseball in strikeouts and have learned to filter fly-balls to the enormous centerfield area that looks as big as The Bay itself. With last night’s 5-4 win over Florida (43-41, +3.1 units), manager Bruce Bochy’s club is 9-3 against the NL East and have won six of last seven games on home turf.
The Giants are listed as home underdog (11-7, +5.9 units) at Bookmaker.com, thanks to pitching matchup. Barry Zito started the year fairly well, but suffered without much run support. Since then, he’s looked pretty much like the same overpaid pitcher that came across the Bay, with 4-8 record and 4.82 ERA. Zito and his teammates are +115 dogs, with total Un8. Combined, they are 4-10 in Zito’s last 14 starts as a home pooch of +110 to +150.
Florida will send out their ace Josh Johnson (7-1, 2.76), to slow down San Fran. Johnson has 14 quality starts in 17 tries in 2009, with sterling 1.128 WHIP and a better than 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Marlins are 12-2 when Johnson starts as favorite and have won last nine outings when the right-hander has been the Game 2 starter. Florida is 15-5 OVER in road games after four straight contests where they stranded seven or less runners on base.
Despite 2.76 ERA against the Giants, Johnson has not defeated San Francisco in three previous attempts, while Zito is 3-0, conceding more than one run once in four starts versus the Fish.
First pitch is set for 7:15 Pacific and this contest is available in local markets as well as on MLB.TV, with the Giants 15-3 OVER in home games in July games.