Daily Bet: Padres (+130) at Pirates

Two games into the NFL preseason and I’m already convinced that my 72-year-old mother could do a better job of picking winners. After losing the Hall of Fame game with Arizona (the Cardinals lost 17-10 to the Saints as a 2½-point underdog), I came back last night and just missed with the Bears (who, as a 2½-point favorite, lost to the Broncos, at home, 31-3). Putting that 28-point loss into perspective: There were five other games on Thursday, and they were decided by a combined 26 points.

Needless to say, I’m not touching any of tonight’s six preseason contests (though <strong>if</strong> I was, I’d lay the points with Miami and Cincinnati and take them with Cleveland). Instead, back to the diamond with a nice ’dog play on San Diego. The Padres are coming off a 5-1 homestand, winning the last four in a row over the Mets and Cubs by the combined score of 18-7. Over the past month, San Diego is a respectable 15-10, while Pittsburgh has been spinning its wheels of late (5-6 last 11).

Padres starter Edinson Volquez got knocked around in his last two starts against the Reds and Mets, allowing nine runs in 6 2/3 innings, but in his previous six outings the right-hander surrendered just seven earned runs in 40 2/3 innings (1.55 ERA). As it is, the Padres are 7-3 in Volquez’s last 10 trips to the mound, including 4-1 on the road. On the flip side, Pirates right-hander James McDonald might have strong overall numbers (10-5, 3.42 ERA), but he’s been a mess in five starts since the All-Star break, going 1-2 with a 7.76 ERA (with the Pirates losing four of five). Note also that San Diego has taken 12 of 14 against the Pirates overall and nine straight in Pittsburgh by the combined tally of 72-25. In fact, the Padres are 21-6 in their last 27 games in the Steel City and 37-16 in their last 53 vs. the Pirates overall.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thursday’s Result: Bears (-2½) vs. Broncos (Loss)

Record: 31-27