Back Dog with MLB Picks in Angles vs. Athletics

Willie Bee

Friday, August 22, 2014 2:10 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 2:10 PM UTC

AL West leaders collide in Oakland the next few days, and SBR will provide previews and free MLB picks for the series between the surging Angels and slumping Athletics.

It wasn't that long ago that the Oakland Athletics looked to be the team to beat in the American League.  The A's are struggling now, however, and having trouble just keeping up with the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West race.

Oakland has a chance to turn that around quickly with the Angels in town for a weekend set.  The Athletics are healthy favorites in Friday's series opener (10:05 PM ET), current MLB odds around -150 on the home team with Sonny Gray on the mound.  Hector Santiago is up next in the Halos rotation with a 7.5 run total for the matchup.

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It's the fourth time the clubs have met this season, and second series in Oakland.  The A's and Angels split the six games played over two sets in Anaheim, with the Athletics sweeping the Halos at Coliseum in the late-May, early-June series.

All three of the matchups in Oakland flew past the totals as the clubs combined for 37 runs in three games.  That continues a high-scoring trend that started on the diamond at the old coliseum in 2012; eight of the 10 games played in Oakland last season topped the scoreboard figure, leaving 'over' bettors 14-3-1 in the last 18 on this field.

Offense Lacking For Angels When Santiago Hurls
Los Angeles (76-50, +16.0 units, 60-61-5 O/U/P) wraps up a 10-game road trip with this stop in Oakland.  The Angels are the hottest team going in the AL with a 6-1 record so far on the journey after sweeping the Red Sox in a 4-game series at Fenway Park this week that was punctuated by an outstanding performance by Matt Shoemaker on Thursday.  That broom job in Boston was tempered by the loss of star pitcher Garrett Richards who suffered a serious knee injury in Wednesday's victory.

The loss of Richards is going to put extra pressure on the rest of the rotation to step things up, and if recent performances are any indication, Santiago appears to be ready to do just that.  Los Angeles has lost all three of Santiago's August assignments, but that has more to do with the offense not providing enough support since the lefty has recorded a 2.08 ERA this month.

Santiago also has pitched very well against the Athletics this year, allowing just one run over two starts spanning 13 innings.  Again, Halo hitters didn't give him much to work with in those games that saw LA go 1-1, both of those contests taking place in Anaheim.  Santiago's only two appearances in Oakland were as a reliever, and he ended up taking the loss both times out (combined 2 IP, 4 ER).

A's Begin 16-Game Stretch Vs. AL West Foes
Oakland (74-52, +4.2 units, 62-55-9 O/U/P) enjoyed Thursday off, and the break might have come at a perfect time for Bob Melvin's club.  The Athletics have been in a downward spiral with eight losses in their last 10, losing eight of their last 10 and starting this quick homestand with a split vs. the Mets. Oakland has five straight series against division rivals coming up, and can't afford for the current slump to continue.

Like his team, Gray has also been struggling with four consecutive losses and an ERA approaching 5.00 this month.  That came on the heels of a perfect 5-0 July when he recorded an ERA just above one.  Gray's latest setback was last Saturday in Atlanta where the A's were broomed, the young righty allowing four runs in 5.1 frames.  He beat the Angels in his only start against them this year, working into the seventh and charged with four runs.

The weatherman isn't reporting any trouble in the Oakland forecast for the weekend, a few clouds floating by but none that will bring rain.  Afternoon highs will reach into the low-70s with game-time temps for all three evening matchups in the mid-60s.

Let's get this series rolling with a free MLB pick on the underdogs.

MLB pick: Angels +150

Season: 103-108 (-6.05)


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