MLB Friday Night Action: San Francisco Giants vs. Los …

Catch two of the league’s top pitchers in action tonight as Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants (75-68) host Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers (70-72) for Game 1 of a 3-game series from AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Though this is perhaps one of the most exciting pitching match-ups of the week, the two pitchers on the mound tonight seem to be headed in completely opposite directions, with many questions circling around San Francisco’s ace Tim Lincecum. While Lincecum (12-12, 2.75 ERA) has been struggling to find his Cy Young-winning form down the home stretch this season and comes into this match-up losing 3 of his last 4 decisions, Clayton Kershaw (17-5, 2.45 ERA) finds himself continuing to build his case for a National League Cy Young award, going 8-1 in his last 10 starts while only giving up 12 total runs over that span. Seeking to become the Dodgers’ first Cy Young award winner since Orel Hershiser in 1988, look out for Kershaw to continue his domination of the San Francisco Giants tonight (4-0, 1.01 ERA in his last 5 starts against them), with the only real hope for the Giants winning tonight hedging on whether or not Lincecum can step up and match Kershaw pitch-for-pitch.

Los Angeles comes into tonight’s match-up winning 13 of their last 16 games, and although it’s unlikely the Dodgers can pull off a miracle and make the post season considering they’re 12 games behind the red-hot Arizona Diamondbacks, Don Mattingly’s club is certainly showing that this crop of young players isn’t going to go out quietly this year, and has their sights set on at least finishing the season with a winning record. Though LA finds themselves without the aid of Andre Either’s bat for the rest of the season, their run production hasn’t been lagging during their winning run, averaging 5.3 runs per game over the last 16, including over 6.3 runs in their 13 wins over that stretch. Meanwhile San Francisco has struggled to find offensive consistency, dropping 6 of their last 10 outings, and scoring just over 3 runs per game during that 10 game stretch.

Betting Lines for San Francisco vs. Los Angeles:

Betonline Sportsbook (read the review of Betonline Sportsbook) offers up the Los Angeles Dodgers as a +106 underdog on the road, while the San Francisco Giants are a -116 favorite to win tonight at home. With these two high-caliber pitchers on the mound, it’s not surprising to see the over/under posted at 5 1/2 runs, but with the way the Dodgers have been hitting and the way Lincecum has been struggling, the over bet on 5 1/2 runs at -120 odds could be worth looking into. Also check out putting money on LA to cover 3 runs at +120, which could end up being a solid bet to chase tonight in this match-up too.

Our Pick to Win:

With San Francisco playing erratically lately, and facing perhaps the hottest pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, I like the Los Angeles Dodgers to nab Game 1 of this 3-game series in San Francisco tonight, by a final score of 4-2. While I expect some bounce back from Lincecum in a must-win situation at home, the way Kershaw is owning all teams right now (4-0, 0.95 ERA in his last 5 outings), and the way he has owned the Giants in the past year (the aforementioned 4-0, 1.01 ERA in 5 outings against them), it seems indicative of yet another quality showing from the young Dodgers ace to be the difference in this ballgame tonight.

Players to Watch, Los Angeles:

Matt Kemp, CF – Kemp is having an MVP year, hitting .318 with 32 home runs and 107 RBIs with 37 steals. However, he’s only hitting .192 (5-for-26) lifetime against Lincecum, something the Dodgers would like to see improve tonight on the road.

James Loney, 1B – Hitting .353 in the past 2 weeks, Loney has been a solid contributor for Los Angeles down the stretch. Unsurprisingly, he’s also struggled against Lincecum hitting just .182 for his career, so look for Loney to try and step up with some better production tonight, and in this series.

Players to Watch, San Francisco:

Carlos Beltran, RF – Beltran is just about the only bright spot right now in the Giant’s order, hitting .591 in the past 7 days, and 12-for-19 (.631) to start September. While he’s hitting .333 against the Dodgers this year, he’ll seek his first hit (0-for-7) lifetime against Kershaw tonight.

Brett Phil, 1B – The Triple-A call-up Phil has jumped out and impressed right away, starting out 3-for-7 with 2 homers and 3 RBIs in his first two games. With little else to get excited about in the Giant’s batting order, keep an eye on Phil to try and add some much needed punch to San Francisco’s lineup here against Kershaw.

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