The Cubs flexed their muscles in Friday win at Arizona, and the MLB odds favored them once again with Jon Lester on the mound against a tough Diamondbacks lineup.
Season: 60-59-3 (+3.04)
Clinging to a 1-game lead atop the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs aim for a series-clincher tonight at the Arizona Diamondbacks in a potential NL playoff preview. Saturday’s duel begins with a couple of lefties on the hill each looking for the ninth wins, Jon Lester (8-6, 3.97) of the Cubs and Patrick Corbin (8-11, 4.76) for Arizona. MLB odds show Chicago chalked in the -130 to -135 range with 9½ for the scoreboard target.
Home runs from Alex Avila and Kyle Schwarber helped the Cubs to an 8-3 win on Friday, Chicago closing on a +106 money line at Bookmaker. Phoenix is generally a troublesome place for the Cubs, Arizona standing 44-28 at home in the rivalry after the Game 1 loss. The Diamondbacks took 2-of-3 at Wrigley less than two weeks ago, two of those games turning into slugfests that went well ‘over’ the totals after those wagers split 2-2 at Chase last season.Both Hurlers Looking For 1st August Wins
Our initial mound battle is a rematch from just 11 days ago in Chicago, one of those slugfests that saw Lester and Corbin both getting banged around. The Cubs eased to a 16-4 win as -180 chalk, but Lester couldn’t hang around long enough to grab the dubya. The Chicago hurler was part of Corbin’s early demise, homering off the 28 year old who surrendered eight runs (7 earned) while lasting just three innings.
Lester rebounded with a good showing against a strong Nationals lineup, pitching into the seventh and giving up three runs before the Chicago bullpen blew up in a 9-4 Washington decision. Corbin followed their meeting up with another road loss, this time at San Francisco with some of the damage not his fault as Arizona’s defense was responsible for three unearned runs. He is 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 12 home starts this season; Lester is making just his second career start at Chase Field, the other a no-decision (7 IP, 2 ER).Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Mark Wegner is next up in Mike Winters’ crew to call balls and strikes. The 20-year veteran brings a fairly level totals record (11-9-1 O/U/P) for this season into the contest one year after a strong ‘over’ tendency (20-9-1). Home underdogs are a woeful 1-5 when the Minnesotan has the dish, but Wegner has been something of a good luck charm for the Diamondbacks who have won his last six plate assignments at Chase.
After a little rain falls in the Phoenix are this morning, temps will soar above 100° meaning Chase Field will be buttoned up. Put me down for a free baseball pick on the ‘over.’Free MLB Pick: Over 9½ (-115)Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker