Once again the central division is the most competitive one in the National League and Pittsburgh is battling St. Louis and Cincinnati for the first place. Their slight lead is in danger and with just one point over the Cardinals they travel to San Francisco in dire need of a victory in the opening game.

Match: San Francisco vs Pittsburgh

Bet: San Francisco

Odds: Winner Sports 1.80

The Pirates were dominant at home in 2013, but split their games on the road and they never had an easy time at AT&T Park. Having an All-Star pitcher on the mound from the first inning should help, especially with Jeff Locke winning nine decisions and posting an ERA of 2.90. Unfortunately for the hosts, their starting pitcher is winless in five starts and is visibly affected by a back injury, although he tries to downplay his condition.

The last time Jeff Locke won a decision was exactly 2 months ago, and he was hit particularly hard in his last outing when he didn’t last more than three innings. The Giants are in danger of finishing last in their division after winning the World Series one season ago, but this doesn’t make them a certain victim in the opening game of the series. The main reason for confidence is that Matt Cain takes the mound and this resurgent pitcher has both the experience and form to contain the Pirates.

BetPal Tip:

If Matt Cain lasts at least seven innings as he did in all of his recent six starts, San Francisco has a very good chance at opening the series with a victory. The odds stand at 1.80 with Winner Sports, less than what punters might have hoped when backing a team that sits on the last place in the division.