Hump Day has it all this week, from a half-dozen matinees, to a prime-time game on ESPN plus a late-night affair in the desert. I'm ordering one from Column A, another from Column C and an update from Column B.
We'll start in the middle of Wednesday's sandwich with a combination review and preview of the Nationals-Phillies series in Philadelphia. Washington took Monday's opener 2-1 behind the pitching of Gio Gonzalez and his bullpen. The Nats closed at -130 for the game which never threatened the 7-run total.
The setback in Game 1 dropped the Phils a game below .500 (21-22, -8.7 units) in last place of the NL East, still five behind first-place Atlanta who also suffered defeat on Monday. The victory improved the Nationals to 25-17 (+4.6 units) and inched them to within a half-game of the Braves.
Tuesday's tilt opened with the Phillies 160 favorites in a mound matchup between Roy Halladay and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann. The price was bet down to -150 on the Don Best odds screen with the initial 6½-run total holding. Philadelphia is 6-1 in Halladay's seven starts vs. the Nats since joining the club before the 2010 season.
It is Wednesday's series finale that has created most of the buzz surrounding this series as Cole Hamels faces the Nationals for the first time since admitting to beaning Bryce Harper a little more than two weeks ago in DC. The Phils have cashed each of his last seven trips to the mound, and they opened as $1.60 chalk. Edwin Jackson is slated to start for the Nats with a 6½-run total ('over' -120).
Rangers, Mariners close set at Safeco Field
Shifting to Column A, the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners will wrap up their 3-game set with a 3:40 p.m. (ET) first pitch on Wednesday. Texas sends Scott Feldman to the mound for just his third start of the campaign; Seattle counters with Kevin Millwood who is coming off a 2-hit shutout last Friday at Coors Field.
Texas is as high as -150 on some Wednesday openers and the total is eight runs.
The Mariners scored a mild upset as +125 'dogs Monday when Felix Hernandez bested Rangers rookie Yu Darvish by a 6-1 count. Texas was a favorite in the -150 to -160 range for Game 2 on Tuesday, with those results still pending. Matt Harrison was scheduled for the visitors against Seattle's Hector Noesi.
Feldman has been pressed into the rotation in place of Neftali Feliz who was placed on the DL due to an elbow injury. Feliz is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks, and there is concern he won't be able to return to a starting role once he does come back. That has prompted talk that Texas is looking for another starter, and the name Roy Oswalt has popped up after the former Astros and Phillies pitcher recently worked out for the Rangers.
Don't look for more than 4-5 innings (80 pitches or so) out of Feldman on Wednesday. The lanky right-hander has made seven starts (plus four relief outings) vs. the Mariners since the '09 campaign got underway, and Texas is 4-3 in his starting assignments.
Millwood's shutout in Denver was his first blank job since he hurled three for the Phillies in '03. He also had a solid outing in a win at the Yankees before that start, and did a great job in his season debut at Texas back on April 11 (6 IP, 1 ER), failing to get the decision in the Mariners' 4-3 comeback win.
Lilly & Saunders Meet In Desert Finale
We reach dessert on Wednesday's slate that concludes with an NL West clash between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The first pitch at Chase Field (9:40 p.m. ET) will be delivered by Joe Saunders, and he'll be opposed by LA's Ted Lilly in a matchup of veteran southpaws.
Chris Capuano's arm and three homers from the Dodgers lineup helped Los Angeles to a 6-1 win on Monday as small road pups. The Diamondbacks were once again favored in Game 2 with Trevor Cahill priced at -140 against LA's Aaron Harang.
The Dodgers are rolling along with the best record in the bigs – 29-13, +14.3 units entering play Tuesday – and Lilly has been a big factor behind the fast start. Los Angeles is 6-1 when he takes the mound, 2-0 on the road. Lilly has made six starts vs. Arizona since donning LA blue during the 2010 season, and the Dodgers are 3-3 with his ERA a respectable 3.40.
Saunders rolled through April but has since struggled a bit, especially in his last two starts at home (12 ER, 8-1/3 IP). The D-Backs have dropped three of his four assignments so far at Chase Field. Like Lilly, Saunders joined Arizona midway through 2010 and he's seen LA eight times since that point. Arizona is 3-5 in those games (1-3 at home) with Saunders sporting a 4.53 ERA.
Wednesday's finale opened close to a pick 'em and carried a total in the 8½-9 run range.