Friday’s MLB Tip Sheet

Published on May 11, 2012, at 1:55 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

**Braves at Cardinals**

–As of early Thursday night, most books were listing St. Louis (20-11, +688) as a minus-150 home favorite for its series opener against Atlanta. The total was eight ‘over’ (minus-115). Gamblers can go the run-line route (minus 1 ½) with the Cardinals for a plus-140 payout (risk $100 to win $140).

–Atlanta (19-13, +286) comes to Busch Stadium for the final three contests of a nine-game road swing. The Braves lost two of three to the Cubs at Wrigley Field this week, but they swept the Rockies in the Mile High City this past weekend.

–St. Louis has won four in a row to take a 3 ½-game lead on second-place Cincinnati in the National League Central. The Cardinals captured a 7-2 win Wednesday at Arizona to complete a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks. Rafael Furcal went 4-for-5 to improve his team-high batting average to .361. Also, David Freese had three hits and Allen Craig popped a two-run homer. Kyle Lohse worked five innings and gave up just one run en route to gathering his fifth victory of the year.

–Atlanta went into Thursday’s action (Washington at Pittsburgh) in a first-place tie with the Nationals for the lead in the NL East.

–Fredi Gonzalez will give the starting nod to 24-year-old Mike Minor, who is 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA. The left-hander got roughed up in his last outing, a 13-9 win at Colorado. The Rockies reached Minor for 10 hits and eight earned runs over five innings.

–Atlanta has won in four of Minor’s six starts. The ‘over’ is 4-2 in his six outings.

–St. Louis LHP Jaime Garcia (2-2, 3.76) will toe the rubber for the home squad. Garcia is looking to bounce back from his worst outing of the year when he walked four and gave up six earned runs in an 8-2 loss to Houston. Totals have been an overall wash (3-3) in his six assignments.

–St. Louis owns a stellar 6-1 record in seven games against southpaw starters. Meanwhile, Atlanta is 7-7 against lefties. The Cardinals are 8-4 at home, while the Braves are 11-8 on the road.

–St. Louis and Atlanta are the NL’s best hitting teams. The Cards are second in the majors with a .287 average, while the Braves are fifth (.265).

–The ‘under’ is 16-14-1 overall for the Cards, but they have seen the ‘over’ go 9-3 in their home games.

–The ‘over’ is 16-14-2 overall for the Braves, 10-8-1 in their road contests. The ‘under’ cashed in all three of their games against the Cubs this week.

–When the Braves visited St. Louis last year, they got a swept in a three-game set. The Cards won five of six head-to-head meetings in 2011.

–Garcia is scheduled to throw the first pitch at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

**Tigers at A’s**

Stats for these teams do NOT include Thursday’s late-night result.

–Most spots have Detroit (15-15, -560) installed as a minus-115 ‘chalk’ for this second contest of a four-game series. The total is 7 ½ ‘under’ (minus-120). Bettors can take the Tigers on the run line for a plus-150 return (risk $100 to win $150).

–Oakland (16-15, +490) went into Thursday’s play in second place in the AL West, trailing the loop-leading Rangers by 4 ½ games. (Texas faced Baltimore in a twin bill Thursday). The A’s have won five of their last seven games.

–Jim Leyland will turn to RHP Rick Porcello (3-2, 4.91) on Friday night. The 23-year-old has been sharp his last two times out, working 14 1/3 innings while surrendering just four earned runs. Porcello has walked just two batters and fanned eight during this stretch.

–Detroit has prevailed in four of Porcello’s six assignments, while totals have been a wash (3-3) in those contests.

–Oakland will give the ball to LHP Tom Milone, who is 4-2 with a 4.42 ERA. The ‘under’ is 4-2 in those six games.

–Oakland is 7-8 at home, 9-11 against right-handed pitching. Meanwhile, Detroit is 6-6 on the road, 6-5 against southpaws.

–The ‘under’ is 19-11-1 overall for the A’s, 10-5 in their home games.

–Detroit has seen the ‘under’ go 17-12-1 overall, 9-3 in its road assignments.

–This game will come off the board at 10:05 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–A pair of lefties will square off Friday night in the series opener between the Mets and Marlins in Miami. Johan Santana (1-2, 2.61) will get the call for New York, while Mark Buehrle (2-4, 2.83) will take the hill for the Fish. The Mets, who swept a three-game set from the Marlins in Queens last month, have an 8-7 road record and a 6-8 ledger against southpaws. Miami is 6-5 in its new home stadium, 5-6 versus left-handers. Most books have the Marlins as minus-130 favorites.

–The biggest underdogs on Friday’s card are the Rockies (+155 at the Dodgers with Moyer going) and Padres (+155 at Philadelphia with Richard throwing).

–The Reds have the NL’s best bullpen with a 2.48 ERA.

–Going into Thursday’s doubleheader at Baltimore, Josh Hamilton was leading the majors in homers with 14 after cranking four in one game at Camden Yards earlier this week. He’s also tops in batting (.406) and RBIs with 36.

–Before Thursday’s game at Boston, Cleveland closer Chris Perez had an MLB-best 11 saves in 12 chances. Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel has an NL-best 10 saves.

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