Faced with needing to win at least three of four this weekend in Oakland against the Athletics, the Los Angeles Angels are instead desperate for a dubya Sunday just to earn a split in the series.
Making their task more difficult is it appears the Halos will have to do without slugger Albert Pujols for a few days. Pujols left the team on Saturday to have his left foot examined by team doctors in Los Angeles, and the plantar fasciitis that has bothered him all season could push him to the DL.
Oakland is chalked in the -150 to -160 range on the MLB odds for the contest behind Jarrod Parker. Tommy Hanson will oppose Parker in the contest that is carrying an 8 run total most baseball betting outlets have priced to the UNDER.
Derek Norris broke up Saturday's pitchers duel with a 2-run pinch homer in the seventh that helped Oakland to a 3-1 victory. Grant Balfour earned his second save in as many days after blowing his first of the season earlier this week, and the A's increased their AL West lead to five games over the Texas Rangers who dropped their third straight contest with a 1-0 setback in Cleveland.
Hanson came off the DL last Tuesday following a 33-day stint and looked solid vs. the Twins, working into the sixth and allowing just one run while whiffing eight. It wasn't good enough for either Hanson or the Angels to win the match, however, as Minnesota exploded for seven runs in the 10th to pocket a 10-3 triumph.
It was a similar story in Hanson's assignment in Oakland back in late-April, his only experience against the A's over his career. The righty tossed six innings and allowed just one earned run, but the A's forced extra innings after trailing 7-3 in the eighth, and posted a 10-8 victory in 19 long frames.
Parker was on the mound this past Tuesday in Houston, the only contest the Astros pulled out in that series and the fifth consecutive no-decision for the A's righthander. He faced the Angels twice in April, once at home and once in Anaheim, and Oakland won both contests despite pedestrian work on Parker's behalf (9.1 IP combined, 5 ER).
Lance Barrett takes up position behind the dish for the series finale. The Fort Worth native is 3-7 O/U on the year, home favorites a perfect 6-0 in his plate assignments. All signs point to a lovely afternoon in the 94621 with the forecast calling for sunny skies, the thermometer stuck on 70º and a 12 mph west wind (out to right).
Despite Saturday's low-scoring affair, and despite the Angels not having Pujols in the lineup, I'm going to come right back with another OVER for my free pick in the series finale.
My pick: Angels-Athletics Over 8 (-105) at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Even-steven is where we stand in Oakland after the Athletics scored a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Game 3 will be part of FOX's Saturday regional coverage with the first pitch a little past 3 PM ET.
Tommy Milone is expected to deliver that pitch as the favorite with initial MLB odds making Oakland -130 chalk, a number that crept up to -135 by Saturday morning. Garrett Richards is making his first start in nearly three months for the Angels, and an 8.5 run total is shaded to the UNDER.
Bartolo Colon spotted the Angels two runs in the top of the first Friday, then settled in while the Athletics quickly responded to regain the lead and ultimately the game. It was Colon's 14th straight quality start, Oakland winning all but two of those matches, and the A's watched their lead in the AL West grow to four over the struggling Texas Rangers.
Richards has made 26 relief appearances since his last start at the end of April, which coincidentally came in Oakland. The Athletics raked the former Sooner for eight hits and seven runs in Richards' 5.2 innings that evening, LA's bullpen not helping the cause. He tossed two scoreless, 1-hit innings against the A's in Anaheim last Sunday, and also worked a scoreless frame from the 'pen on Tuesday vs. the Twins.
Milone opened Oakland's set in Houston this past Monday but did not decision in the 4-3 win. The southpaw out of USC worked six allowing just two earnies, and it marked the fourth win for the A's in his last five outings.
Oakland split Milone's two tries against the Angels this year; the win was an 11-5 decision in Anaheim as a +120 underdog and the 5-4 loss came in Oakland as -115 chalk with Milone allowing four earned runs each time.
It's still going to be in the 60s at game time, with the thermometer only scratching into the low-70s as the contest progresses. A 10-12 mph wind from the west (out to right) is also in the mix this afternoon in Oakland.
Tom Hallion (12-8-1 O/U/P) is up next in the umpire rotation, the totals split 2-2 in his games that had an 8.5 run total. The A's are 0-3 in his last three plate assignments at The Coliseum, one of those an 8-3 loss to the Halos last September that also saw Milone start for Oakland (pick on moneyline, 8.5 total).
This game has me perplexed as far as picking a side for the outcome, so I'm going to get behind the two lineups to have enough giddy-up in their bats to send this one past the total; OVER 8.5 will be my free play on Saturday.
By: Willie Bee
First blood in this long weekend series was drawn by the Los Angeles Angels who scored an 8-3 dubya against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. The A's will now turn to a veteran arm to get back in the win column and even up the set.
Part of a Friday schedule that is chock-full of late action, Game 2 gets underway a little past 10 PM (ET) with a rematch on the hill from last weekend's series between the clubs at the Big A. Jerome Williams is in the role as the underdog for the Angels who go up against Oakland's Bartolo Colon. The MLB odds started with Oakland as a $1.75 favorite, but Friday morning's moneylines are more in the -160 to -165 range and there's been little to no movement on the total which is 8 (U-115).
CJ Wilson's pitching was supported by bats belonging to Albert Pujols and JB Shuck in LA's Game 1 win. Despite the victory, the fifth in their last seven games at The Coliseum, the Angels remain 10 games out in the AL West while the A's stayed three games up on the Texas Rangers who also fell on Thursday.
Our two hurlers met last Sunday in Anaheim, and it was all Colon in a 6-0 complete-game 4-hitter. Williams served up a 2-run homer to Eric Sogard in the third inning to supply Colon with all the offense he needed to improve to 13-3 on the season. That is all the Angels have seen of Colon this year, and he owns a 10-4 lifetime mark against them with a 2.47 ERA. Williams saw the A's three times as a reliever back in April, working a combined nine innings with just one run crossing the dish.
Before last Sunday's outing, Williams had also been knocked around in his three previous July assignments. The Angels managed to rally to win one of them while their righty worked only eight combined frames and surrendered 17 earned runs.
Colon's shutout extended his streak to 13 consecutive quality starts with Oakland winning 11 of them, including the last three. The beefy Dominican has some very even home-road splits, the A's 8-2 in his 10 home starts and the same in his 10 away from Oakland, his 2.50 ERA at The Coliseum not much different than his 2.54 mark on the road.
Clear skies, temps in the mid-to-upper 60s and a 10 mph westerly breeze (out to right) is the weather forecast this evening in Oakland. Adrian Johnson is next in line for plate duty, and brings a string of six consecutive UNDERS into Friday's clash to give him an 8-13 O/U tally on the year.
Laying $1.65 isn't something I normally like to do, but in this case, it feels right. Colon is on a roll and my free pick in Game 2 will be on the A's.
My pick: Athletics -165 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
We're definitely getting into now-or-never territory for the Los Angeles Angels. A long weekend series in Oakland against the Athletics could be just what the doctor ordered...or serve as the death certificate for another disappointing and underachieving season in Anaheim.
Making the task even more difficult for the Halos is they'll have to do it without ace Jered Weaver taking the mound, and could be minus a big bat which we'll get to in a bit. Weaver pitched Wednesday afternoon at home in the series finale with the Twins, helping stave off a Minnesota sweep in a 1-0 victory.
Thursday's series opener as well as Friday's second game will feature rematches from mound duels that took place just last weekend in Anaheim. CJ Wilson gets the call for the Angels opposite Dan Straily of the A's. MLB odds opened with Oakland -120 chalk, but that moneyline is down to -110 following overnight trading. Game 1's total is 7.5 runs.
Both Teams Missing Big Bats Recently
Each lineup has been minus a big bat in their outfield mix this week. Josh Hamilton missed the Angels series vs. Minnesota with what was diagnosed as inflammation of the right ankle and received a cortisone shot on Wednesday. He is officially listed as probable for Thursday.
Yoenis Cespedes, who won the 2013 Home Run Derby in New York just a little more than a week ago, missed Oakland's first four games after the all-star break with a sore left wrist. He was back in the starting lineup Wednesday for the A's when they closed out their set in Houston with a win.
Wilson has seen the A's plenty over his career, racking up close to 130 innings total following last Saturday's near-complete game performance. The Newport Beach native gave way to his bullpen one out into the ninth of LA's 2-0 victory, his second straight dubya vs. the Athletics this year. The bullpen blew a possible third win in April when Wilson left leading 5-4; the Angels and Rangers are 5-1 over his last six starts at Oakland where his ERA is 2.47 in that span.
Straily opposed Wilson last Saturday at the Big A and posted his third straight quality start in July, albeit in a losing effort. It was a far cry from when he faced the Halos at home in April and was run off the mound in the fifth having allowed six runs, including homers by Trumbo and Albert Pujols. Straily has been solid in Oakland his last four assignments, all wins for the A's with the young righty combining for a 1.40 ERA in those 25.2 frames.
Series Level Over Last Five Seasons
It's difficult to find a more even series in the majors with the last 84 meetings between the A's and Angels split right down the middle at 42 wins apiece. The Athletics are 2-1 at The Coliseum in 2013 after dropping six of nine at home to the Halos in 2012.
All three games in Oakland back in May went OVER the total, as did the first three games between the clubs this season in Anaheim. But that run ended last weekend when the Angels hosted the A's and each contest failed to reach the number.
Weather won't be a factor Thursday night, nor should it be an issue the rest of the series. If something changes on that front, we'll let you know.
I can't help but wonder if the first game after playing the Astros isn't tough on a team. The A's really weren't that impressive despite taking two of three in Houston this week, and now they have to meet an Angels team that is still very talented and experienced despite underachieving. I kinda' like Wilson with his track record vs. the A's on an underdog play for my free pick in Game 1.
My pick: Angels +100 at Bet365