It’s a potential National League playoff preview on Tuesday evening in Washington, D.C., as the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants visit the NL East-leading Nationals, with Washington a -125 favorite on Bovada’s baseball odds for the series opener.
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This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams with the best records in the NL – the Nats then visit San Francisco in mid-August. At one point this season the Giants were 7.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the West but now surging San Francisco has a one-game lead over skidding L.A. The Giants stopped a mini-two-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory Sunday over Cincinnati.
Washington, which has a 3.5-game lead in the East, just won two of three games in Atlanta and won’t head back on the road until after the All-Star break. Ryan Zimmerman has been raking for Washington. He went 3-for-5 with four RBIs on Sunday and has driven in 13 runs over his last eight games to match the most RBIs he’s ever had over any eight-game span of his career. Zimmerman has 14 hits in his past 37 at-bats (.378) with three home runs and those 13 RBIs.
San Francisco starts two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum (3-8, 5.60) on Tuesday. The right-hander has been uncharacteristically lousy this season but perhaps is about to turn things around. He ended a stretch of 10 consecutive winless starts last time out when he allowed four hits in seven innings in a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers, recording his first win since April 28. It was just Lincecum’s fourth quality start in 16 appearances but he has now thrown 12 straight scoreless innings. Lincecum is 1-2 with a 4.14 ERA career vs. Washington. The Nats’ Ian Desmond is hitting .778 in his career vs. Lincecum.
Washington counters with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (4-6, 2.77). He got his first win since May 22 last time out, allowing just one run in seven innings at Colorado. Zimmermann, who gets some of the worst run support in the league, hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his past five starts and has a better ERA than All-Star teammates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Zimmermann is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his career vs. San Francisco.
The Giants are 2-9 in Lincecum’s past 11 road starts and 1-9 in his past 10 starts in Game 1 of a series. Washington is 1-4 in Zimmermann’s past five home starts.