It's a rivalry that dates to the 1880s and has
been played out in five different cities on both coasts. They were even
division rivals for about 25 years despite a gap of 2,500 miles between
stadiums. The and Braves don't meet as often as they once did, but that diminished the rivalry, and their first series clash of 2012 is certainly a big one.
MLB odds put -150 chalk on the Braves on their own diamond behind Jair
Jurrjens. The Giants will give the ball
to Barry Zito and an early 9 run total was priced 20 cents to the UNDER.
Tuesday night's affair is the first of seven contests
pitting the two squads (Atlanta
visits San Fran for 4 games Aug 23-26), and the outcome figures to at least
factor into home-field advantages for the playoffs, if not reaching the
postseason period. The Giants just
climbed into the NL West crow's nest with a home sweep of the hapless Astros;
the Braves are riding a 7-game string of dubyas that include a broom job in Philadelphia just before
the All-Star Game and a huge sweep of the New York Mets this past weekend to
the delight of the Turner Field crowds.
Busting loose against the Mets was a big deal on two fronts. The sweep obviously lifted the Braves closer
to the Washington Nationals at the top of the NL East while putting a little
separation between Atlanta
and the Mets. Perhaps more importantly,
however, is the Braves struggled at Turner Field in the first half
(20-22). The 3-game sweep at home to
begin the second half, and against a big division foe to boot, could be a
momentum lighter for Atlanta.
Jurrjens continuing his results since returning from the
minors would also be a difference maker. He really has been a different pitcher after a trip to the farm, and the
emphasis is on the word pitcher. The one downside is his only two really
strong starts have come away from the home crowd, though poor leather behind
Jurrjens factored into his July 3 start in Atlanta against the Cubs, a game the Braves
San Francisco hasn't exactly
been tearing it up on the road with a 20-24 record, so that could play into Atlanta's lap. The Giants have also fared poorly vs. the NL
East (7-10), five of those wins came on the road in New
York and Miami. A 3-game sweep at the hands of Washington leading into the midseason vacation was part
of a 1-5 road trip that also included a stop in Pittsburgh.
Coincidentally, Zito started and won the only clash on that
trip. It certainly wasn't pretty (5 IP,
4 ER), and that has unfortunately become Zito's MO on the road since a
fantastic start to the season. The
southpaw out of USC allowed just three earned runs in his first 20 innings away
from AT&T Park, but has subsequently posted an
8.48 ERA in five road assignments.
Zito has done well in recent years vs. the Braves and in
this ballpark, but it's the first time he has pitched either against or in Atlanta in two years, so take those numbers
with a grain of salt.
Turner Field has been something of a Little Shop of Horrors
for the Giants since it opened in 1997. The Braves have a 39-19 advantage on this turf, including three of four
last season and nine out of the last 12. Totals have gone 3-7 O/U the last 10 played in Atlanta, and for those scoring at home, one
of the UNDERS came in a Zito victory.
West Coast teams traveling east generally sound an alarm
bell, but the Giants will have had a day to acclimate and set themselves for an
important series in a tough venue. The
Braves have subsequently had their fast start out of the gate also interrupted
by a day off, possibly losing an edge they might have had if Game 1 was played
The way Atlanta is hitting and Craig Kimbrel is holding
leads, I can't help but like the Braves to get it done Tuesday night.
pick: Braves -150