The San Francisco Giants cruised past one postseason contender over the weekend, but the road to first place in the National League West only gets tougher. The Giants will try to extend their winning streak to five when they begin a seven-game road trip with a visit to the major-league best St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
The Giants are in the midst of a brutal stretch that began with four straight losses at the Chicago Cubs from August 6-9 but got better with a split against the American League West-leading Houston Astros and a four-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, capped by Madison Bumgarner’s 14-strikeout, three-hit, one-homer shutout on Sunday. San Francisco will endure five straight series against teams with superior records beginning with the Cardinals and continuing with Pittsburgh, the Cubs, St. Louis again and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to close the month. The Cardinals (75-42) are five games up on Pittsburgh in the Central and took two of three from Miami over the weekend to claim a fifth straight series victory. San Francisco will face a tough test in Monday’s opener against 14-game winner Michael Wacha, while the Cardinals square off against rookie Chris Heston.
TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN Bay Area (San Francisco), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
LINE HISTORY: The Cards opened -140 and currently sit -148. The total opened at 7 and remains unchanged.
INJURY REPORT: Giants – CF Angel Pagan (15-day DL, knee), 2B Joe Panik (15-day DL, back), LF Nori Aoki (7-day DL, concussion). Cardinals – LF Matt Holliday (15-day DL, quad), CF Jon Jay (15-day DL, wrist), CF Randal Grichuk (Questionable, elbow).
WEATHER: Temperatures expected to be in the low-80s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow from rightfield to leftfield at around 6 miles per hour.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “With the recent loss of 2B Joe Panik (back), the Giants are apparently interested in trading for Chase Utley from the Phillies. Utley reportedly cleared revocable waivers last week and he would seem to be a perfect fit and could even contribute as a role player once Panik is back. The Cards can now realistically think about the first 100-win season in MLB in five years (Philadelphia – 2011). It would also move them past the Braves into third place all time of 100-win teams (nine seasons).” Covers Expert Big Al McMordie.
Brandon Crawford’s wife Jalynne and Kolten Wong’s girlfriend Alissa Noll.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Chris Heston (11-7, 3.38 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (14-4, 2.93)
Heston is winless in his last three starts and is coming off a tough-luck loss against Houston on Wednesday. The offense failed to provide any support for the 27-year-old, who allowed one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings but suffered the loss in a 2-0 final. Heston is making his first start against St. Louis and is 6-2 with a 4.45 ERA in 11 road starts.
Wacha earned his third straight win on Wednesday by holding Pittsburgh to two runs despite nine hits and three walks in six innings. The Texas A&M product held Cincinnati and Colorado scoreless over seven innings in each of his previous two turns. Wacha scattered three hits over six scoreless frames in his lone career regular-season start against San Francisco but served up three runs while recording one out in relief at the Giants during Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS last fall.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Giants are 6-1 in Heston’s last seven starts as an underdog.
* Under is 4-0 in Wachas last four starts overall.
* Cardinals are 4-1 in Wacha’s last five starts as a favorite.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Seventy-three percent of Covers users are backing the Cardinals.