Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 7:08 AM
Both the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s won low scoring nailbiters Tuesday Night to stay alive in the Major League playoffs. Neither Bay Area team has time to breathe though. Both are facing elimination games once again Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers respectively.
Here are the pitching matchups in Game Four action from Cincinnati at Oakland…
SAN FRANCISCO at CINCINNATI (Wednesday at 4:07 p.m. on TBS)
Zito: 4.14 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, .263 opponents’ batting average
Leake: 4.58 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .287 opponents’ batting average
Leake is the most likely starter as we go to press for a Reds team that is still reeling from losing ace Johnny Cueto in the series opener. There’s a chance a different arm will go. Monitor the markets during the day to get the final word.
If it IS Leake, then the Reds lose whatever advantage they were expecting to have vs. Zito. The Giants had to choose between Zito and Tim Lincecum…both of whom aren’t exactly trustworthy to mow people down at this point. Most playoff teams would think of themselves as clear favorites over Zito. Cincinnati can’t with Leake given those numbers. Those are very poor for a postseason starter. Both Zito and Leake might be helped by afternoon shadows with this starting time.
You can assume that Lincecum will be waiting in the wings should Zito falter. You can’t assume that’s a good thing given the up and down (mostly down) nature of Lincecum’s season. After a pitcher’s duel last night (San Francisco only had one hit in their first nine innings on offense, while Cincinnati only had one hit in its last nine innings of offense), things could really blow up today with those vulnerable arms on the mound.
The Giants have scored 2-0-1 through nine innings of the first three games. They’re long overdue to start putting runs on the board. If Cincinnati can finish the job today, they’ll get some extra rest before dealing with the winner of the St. Louis-Washington series in the NLCS.
DETROIT at OAKLAND (Wednesday at 9:37 p.m. on TNT)
Scherzer: 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .250 opponents’ batting average
Griffin: 3.06 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .236 opponents’ batting average
AJ Griffin is the latest rookie to get a start for the A’s. He put up very good numbers in 15 regular season starts. But, he’s obviously not viewed as an overpowering pitcher or the A’s would have used him earlier than Game Four of this series. Scherzer of Detroit has days where he’s as scary as Justin Verlander…and days where he looks more like an AL version of the Tim Lincecum saga. How can pitchers with so much stuff suddenly lose it like that? Scherzer was dealing with minor injuries late in the season, but says he’s ready to go.
The side and total here probably depend on the true readiness level of Scherzer. He’s the type who either wins or loses a game all by himself most outings. If his stuff is singing, there’s no-hit potential deep into the game. If he can’t find the strike zone, Oakland could strike early and sit on a lead for the second straight night. Detroit only leads the full series scoreboard 8-7. So, any bobble by a starting pitcher will loom very large.
Note that potential fifth games in both of these series are scheduled for Thursday should the trailers force things to go the distance. San Francisco at Cincinnati would be the first game of the day at lunchtime, with a probable pitching matchup of Matt Cain vs. Mat Latos. A grand finale in Oakland would be the last game of the day in the late-night slot, with Justin Verlander set to go against Jarrod Parker. Detroit has to feel very confident about winning once with Scherzer and Verlander slated for back-to-back games. San Francisco is hoping to last long enough to get Cain on the hill.
Our VSM experts have big things planned for this fantastic Wednesday GRAND SLAM of playoff baseball. Be sure you check out the options EARLY since we have a couple of day games (Cards/Nats gets the day started at 1:07 p.m. ET). You can always find out what’s going on with the Masters by visiting the home page of this website for big play bulletins. More details on what’s available will go up on the “Buy Picks” page once the selections are officially posted by mid-morning on Wednesday.
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