The 2012 MLB playoffs are set to get underway on Friday afternoon.
The St. Louis Cardinals visit the Atlanta Braves in the first ever wild card round of the baseball postseason. The Texas Rangers will play the Baltimore Orioles at 8:30 p.m. in the American League wild card game.
First pitch is set for 5:07 p.m. ET at Turner Field. If you can’t get to a TV, you can watch a live stream online at mlb.com for $4.99.
The winner of this matchup will play the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. The first game of that series is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Both teams enter the game fairly hot, having won seven of their last 10. With 94 wins on the year, Atlanta clinched a wild card berth with over a week remaining in the season. St. Louis didn’t get in until Tuesday night.
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Atlanta enters the contest with the pitching advantage, as Kris Medlen takes the hill for the Braves. Medlen may have been the best starter in the majors in the final two months of the season. He entered the rotation on July 31, and has been unbeatable ever since, pitching to a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts. The Braves won all those contests.
The Cardinals are also sending a tough pitcher to the mound. Kyle Lohse finished the season at 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA. He performed poorly in his one start against the Braves this year, allowing five runs in five innings.
Despite losing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals were able to make the playoffs on the strength of their offense. They finished second in the National League in runs scored, led by Matt Holliday and his 102 RBI.
The Braves pitching was the best in the NL after the All-Star break. Atlanta pitchers registered a 2.87 ERA in the second half of the season. Closer Craig Kimbrel was dominant, throwing 116 strikeouts in less than 63 innings.
If Atlanta can’t come away with the victory, it will be the last game of Chipper Jones’ career. The veteran announced in March that he’ll retire at the end of the year. He finished his final season with a .287 batting average, 14 home runs and 62 RBI.
Betting Line: Atlanta-170, St. Louis+160
Prediction: This should be a close game and could be one that comes down to the last inning. The Cardinals will be one of the tougher lineups that Medlen has faced in 2012. However, with a virtually unhittable starter and the edge at closer, the Braves should be able to advance to the NLDS.
Predicted Score: Atlanta 3, St. Louis 2