The Angels and Athletics head to a crucial rubber game in their 3-game MLB odds this afternoon in Oakland, and bettors are facing a tough decision in what is essentially a toss-up.
Thursday's Game 3
By: Willie Bee
You can't keep a player like Mike Trout down for long. In a bit of a slump with only five hits in his last 34 at bats (.147), Trout broke out with a double and a homer in a 6-3 Los Angeles Angels victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, evening their series to set up a matinee rubber game today.
The 3:30 PM (ET) tilt in Oakland is also pretty even on the baseball betting board, several shops listing the game close to a pick 'em on the MLB odds. We'll call the A's consensus -110 favorites to make things easy. Our initial mound battle pits a pair of Cali natives, Garrett Richards of the Halos and Oakland's Jesse Chavez. The 7½ run total currently on the board finds the 'over' juiced a little extra.
Oakland Turns To Chavez In Rotation Change
Richards got a late start on the year and the results on his return have been mixed. On one hand, he has given up just eight hits and one homer in 12 innings; on the other, Richards has walked 12.
The former OU star was a little off his game a couple of starts ago at Houston against and Astros team seemingly playing well above its expectations, and then rebounded with a fine performance against the Rangers last Friday. Richards is 0-2 in four starts and a relief outing at The Coliseum over the last three years, sporting a near-6.00 ERA.
Chavez is basically replacing Kendall Graveman in the Oakland rotation, having performed admirably in his season audition last Thursday in Anaheim. The slender righty did walk three, but limited the damage by allowing just two hits and one earned run. It was just his third start against the Angels the last four seasons, along with nine relief outings (3.40 ERA 34.1 IP).
Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Ted Barrett has been a pretty fair umpire overall, and that statement has been pretty much proven on the baseball odds this season with home team 2-2 and the totals also running 2-2 O/U. He hasn't been under the mask in this stadium in nearly two years, recording a push and an 'over' in his two 2013 plate assignments.
It's going to be a chamber of conference afternoon in Oakland, temps in the mid-70s at first pitch and climbing under sunny skies and dry air. What little breeze their is will hail from the north (in from left).
The Angels will be without Albert Pujols due to a hamstring injury suffered yesterday, the slugger likely missing the weekend interleague series in San Francisco as well. That takes a hitter out of the lineup who has been pretty successful against Chavez, and helps my decision to go with the Athletics for my free MLB pick a little easier to make.
Wednesday's Game 2
By: Willie Bee
For a little while Tuesday evening, it appeared that Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels might get some revenge against Sonny Gray and the Oakland Athletics. The Angels scored a couple of runs quickly in the top of the first thanks to a walk and a pair of singles and Weaver almost as quickly got two outs in the bottom of the opening frame.
Trouble is, Weaver couldn't get that third out in the first inning before the A's plated five. Gray was in command from that point on, and Oakland put an end to a 4-game losing skid to take a 6-2 victory.
The Athletics will look to keep the wins coming Wednesday night when the teams reconvene at the venerable old Oakland Coliseum for a 10:05 PM (ET) first pitch from Jesse Hahn. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia was late in naming Matt Shoemaker his starting pitcher, and that has kept the contest off the baseball betting board up to now.
Shoemaker Returns To Halos After 9-Day Absence
The death of his grandfather had Matt Shoemaker away from his team for about a week and a half. He began the season with a pair of victories at Seattle and Texas, allowing three runs in each contest while working 6+ innings, before getting slapped around by Oakland nine days ago in Anaheim (3 IP, 5 ER, 2 HR). Keep in mind when placing your MLB picks that his only previous experience vs. the A's had been a combined 7.1 innings of shutout baseball covering a start and relief outing.
Hahn was iffy for this start due to a blister on his pitching hand, but he's alright to at least start the contest. The 25-year-old has only lasted a full six innings in one of his three assignments so far, and the injury could certainly shorten this appearance to five innings or less. The former Virginia Tech star has allowed just one earned run in his last 11 innings as he prepares to face the Halos lineup for the first time in his career.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Battle Creek, MI native Scott Barry is in his eighth year working major league games and expected to have the plate for the 244th regular season game in his career. All three games he called balls and strikes in so far this season stayed 'under' the total, starting with the first one in Houston on April 9. That leaves baseball bettors 13-21 O/U since 2014.
There should still be some sun when the contest begins around seven o'clock local time. Fly balls headed to right might get a little extra push from a 7-10 mph westerly breeze, and the thermometer should be in the low-60s for first pitch.
MLB Pick: Athletics at -115 on Money Line & -1.5 +180 on the Run-Line at BetOnline
Tuesday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
So, here we are three weeks into the 2015 MLB betting schedule, and only one American League West team isn't sporting a sub-.500 record. That's not all that rare considering how early it is, a little less than 90% of the regular season remaining.
What is surprising about it is the only team above .500 is Houston, you know, the same Astros who have finished last in their divisions three of the past four years with a combined 232-416 record (.358).
The team favored to win the AL West this season? That would be the same Los Angeles Angels who reached opening day as the biggest chalk on the baseball futures odds to win the American League pennant (+360). They're presently 9-10 and 3 games south of the Astros.
The team that won the division two of the past three seasons and made the playoffs all of those years? That would be the Oakland Athletics, currently just a half-game out of last place with an 8-12 record.
Both the Angels and A's look to turn around poor starts Tuesday evening when they begin a 3-game set in Oakland. Game 1 is scheduled for a 10:05 PM (ET) first pitch, and features a couple of fine young hurlers in Jered Weaver of the Angels and Sonny Gray of the A's.
SBR's live MLB odds currently show a -145 moneyline on the Athletics at Wagerweb. A 7 run total at the same outlet is priced 20¢ to the high side,
Can Gray & Weaver Repeat Last Week's Duel?
Just as we saw in the opener of the Pirates, Cubs series in Chicago on Monday, a quick mound rematch is in store for the beginning of this series. Weaver and Gray met last Wednesday in the third of a 4-game clash in Anaheim, and each put forth fine efforts by allowing only 1-run apiece during their evenings. Halo relievers couldn't match Weaver, however, the A's busting through late for an eventual 9-2 win.
It was Weaver's best performance in four assignments, but also the third LA loss in those contests. He split his four starts vs. the A's a year ago, also having things in Oakland where he netted a 5.68 ERA in less than 13 innings.
The win left the Athletics 2-2 in Gray's starts, though the former Vanderbilt standout has pitched well enough to be 3-1 at this point. He has allowed just one earned run in 15+ innings at home this season, and beat Weaver and the Angels on this diamond last June by a 6-3 count as -145 favorites on the MLB odds.
Banged-Up A's In Throes Of 4-Game Skid
Oakland was likely licking its collective chops heading into last weekend when the Astros arrived. It certainly gave Bob Melvin's men good reason to think they might start getting things going considering the A's have beaten Houston 26 of 38 meetings the past two seasons, nine of the last 12 at the Coliseum.
But the Astros instead left town with a sweep to extend Oakland's losing streak to four, and Melvin is working with a pretty thin bench due to both Coco Crisp (elbow) and Ben Zobrist (knee) being part of a lengthy DL. The Athletics are still managing to score above the league RPG average, but without Crisp and Zobrist for at least another month each, it's going to put more pressure on the pitching staff to keep them in the race.
We're supposed to see come clouds the first couple of games in this series, but none that will threaten the games with rain. A humid day is in store for tonight's first game. the thermometer in the low-60s at the start of the game with a westerly breeze in the 8-12 mph range (out to right).
It's rare for teams to have a day off in the middle of a homestand like the Athletics enjoyed on Monday. Maybe it came at the perfect time to help Oakland forget about being broomed by Houston, but I'm still running with the Angels as underdogs for my free MLB picks.
MLB Pick: Angels +141 at the Greek