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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 9:13 PM

The pennant races are really heating up in Major League Baseball right now. There may be only two divisional battles that are seen as toss-ups at the moment (NL West and AL Central). But, the Widlcards are up for grabs…and the teams in those divisional races are very much alive in the Wildcard wars. We’re set up for quite a stretch run!

And, that was true before Melky Cabrera became outtakes from a Will Ferrell movie!

A guy regains his career by cheating…denies the cheating…then tries to cover up the cheating by creating a fake website and a fake product that he supposedly bought. Wait, that’s BETTER than most Will Ferrell movies!

This week’s San Francisco Giants/ Los Angeles Dodgers series was going to be important even before the best player in the Giants (statistically speaking this year) took himself out of the pennant race with a 50-game suspension. Now you have the added drama of all the remaining Giants knowing it’s up to them to get the job done if they want to return to the playoffs…while the Dodgers are circling around like sharks who smell blood.

Here’s what’s at stake at the moment for the members of this classic rivalry…

*The NL West Championship. These two teams are neck and neck near the top of the standings…and have distanced themselves from third place Arizona. The D-Backs would have to catch fire, then have BOTH of these teams collapse for somebody besides the Giants or Dodgers to take the division. These next three days of Giants/Dodgers showdowns will either give one team a big boost…or will guarantee that the horse race will stay tight for awhile longer.

*The second NL Wildcard. The runner-up in the NL East is a virtual lock right now to get one of the two Wildcard spots in the senior circuit. ESPN’s standings page lists both Washington and Atlanta as well over 90% to make the playoffs. That means one spot is left for the survivor of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the NL West runner-up. A big series for either the Giants or Dodgers puts them in great shape to at least settle for a Wildcard at worst. A bad series for either one represents two stab wounds…one apiece in two different races.

These teams go at each other hard even when it’s just a normal regular season series. This week’s games are basically an early version of the playoffs. It’s not quite a knockout round given the number of games left. Monday through Wednesday will certainly shape the rest of the race.

Let’s take a look at the projected pitching matchups for these three rounds of boxing.



San Francisco: Bumgarner (13-7, 2.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Los Angeles: Kershaw (11-7, 2.90 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Goodness…that’s a playoff style matchup right there. Two guys having Cy Young type seasons square off in a national TV spot. You have to think about the Under even at the low Vegas total because one of the offenses travelled without a day off. The Dodgers were in Atlanta on Sunday, and had to cross all the time zones with no rest for the weary. San Francisco was on the road at San Diego, and is “on the road here,” though there’s not much difference between San Diego and Los Angeles. It’s tough to say that Kershaw is ever at a disadvantage at home. But, the Dodgers as a team drew the short end of the stick in terms of travel demands.



San Francisco: Lincecum (6-13, 5.45 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

Los Angeles: Blanton (8-11, 4.96 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Now we jump in the other direction. Two pitchers who have been struggling this season square off Tuesday Night once the offenses have had a chance to settle in. Lincecum of the Giants has managed some good starts vs. poor offenses in recent days…but is still vulnerable vs. quality. Blanton’s ERA is worse than his WHIP would suggest. He’s prone to allowing big blows at bad times. This would look to be the most volatile game in the series given the wide possibilities of what we could get from the moundsmen. The loss of Melky Cabrera really hurts in a spot like this. He was tearing the seems off the ball in road games this year.



San Francisco: Cain (12-5, 2.90 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Los Angeles: Capuano (11-8, 3.14 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)

Back to a pitcher’s duel to round things out. Cain may have lost a little zip since making headlines a few weeks ago…but he’s still very tough to hit in this kind of park. Capuano loves pitching in Los Angeles, and knows he has to step up down the stretch if the team is going to reach the postseason. You’ll be certain to see one of these guys pitching critical innings in October. Somebody’s got to win the division! We have another matchup with a playoff feel to it, that’s for sure.

JIM HURLEY will be checking with his West Coast sources to see if there are any edges in this series to exploit beyond what we’ve already discussed involving logical total plays given the pitching alignment. He may or may not have a monster in this matchup over the next three days. But, it’s VERY likely that something very special is pending soon in SF/LAD or these other dream showdowns:

NY Yankees at Chicago White Sox

Baltimore at Texas

Atlanta at Washington

Any of those could have been a showcase series for us in the NOTEBOOK. We decided to go with two teams who are fighting for survival. Washington, Atlanta, Texas, and NYY are going to be in the postseason barring some huge developments. Those are big games on the list…but SF/LAD is a rivalry that could also turn out to be a three-day steel cage match (with Don Mattingly climbing over the top from outside to get in the fray!).

Jim Hurley’s baseball goes up every day a few hours before first pitch. Remember to take care of business early on Wednesdays and Thursday’s because of the getaway games. We still have great rates that take you through the rest of baseball. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Don’t forget that there’s also football on the Monday Night card. The Philadelphia Eagles visit the New England Patriots on ESPN in a game that should be a thriller for at least the first third of the evening…and you never know what’s going to happen in the second half when backups are on the field. Keep making those Dollars of August with JIM HURLEY. Remember that the BIGGEST PLAYS of the 2012 Preseason are still ahead!

Back with you Tuesday as we navigate the August waters through baseball and football. Our next college conference previews will run Saturday and Sunday with the SEC East and SEC West. We’ll finish off the summer series right after that with the Big 10 Leaders and Legends divisions. The start of college football is just a week-and-a-half away!

NFL will grab the headlines Thursday when the dress rehearsal games hit the stage. There will be FIVE national TV games from Thursday through Sunday, including showcase spots for the Bears, Giants, Texans, Saints, 49ers, Broncos, and Jets.

So much to talk about. So much to win! Be sure you’re getting your BIG, JUICY WINNERS every day from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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