Angels vs. Athletics Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Tyler Skaggs was cruising along Saturday afternoon in Oakland where he limited the Athletics to a single run through six innings, and appeared to have the Los Angeles Angels in line to level the weekend series. But it all came unraveled in the seventh, and now the A's are instead in line for a sweep of the Halos.
Jered Weaver is LA's first line of defense in preventing the broom job in the 4:05 PM (ET) contest at The Coliseum. He'll be opposed by Oakland's young hurler Sonny Gray with the A's drawing -135 to -140 chalk to complete the sweep. SBR's live MLB odds have a lucky 7 hung for the total, favoring the 'over.'
Los Angeles had a 3-1 lead entering the seventh inning Saturday, but Yoenis Cespedes led a late Oakland charge with a 2-run triple as part of a 6-run frame, then iced things with a 3-run jack in the eighth. The resulting 11-3 victory gave the Athletics a 3.5-game lead in the AL West and left the Angels 2-4 so far on their 10-game road trip.
Trout Expected Back in Angels Lineup on Sunday
Weaver evened his season record against the Mariners with a victory this past Tuesday, working six innings while allowing three runs in LA's 6-4 triumph. He finished May with a 4-1 record to go with a sparkling 1.98 ERA. The Angels are a perfect 4-0 in Weaver's last four assignments in Oakland where he owns a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts.
Mike Trout was missing from Saturday's lineup due to some minor back pain. He is supposed to be ready to go for Sunday's finale and back in the 2-hole of LA's order.
Gray is coming off his worst outing of 2014, getting tagged for four runs in six innings at home on Tuesday vs. the Tigers. Oakland has dropped his last two trips to the bump, but won seven of Gray's first nine starts.
The former Vanderbilt standout saw the Angels twice during 2013, once as a reliever, and limited LA hitters to a .194 average with the only run off Gray in eight total innings coming on a Mike Trout solo blast.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Totals bettors have split Fieldin Culbreth's first 10 games behind the dish, and two plate assignments at The Coliseum have also produced one 'over' and one 'under.' The only real trend worth noting is that his games behind the dish which sport totals of 7 runs or less have finished 1-4 O/U.
It should be a great afternoon for baseball in Oakland under sunny skies and the temperature in the mid-70s. The weatherman is also forecasting a 10 mph west wind which will give balls headed to right field a little extra gas.
After 28 runs crossing the plate in the first two games, the 'over' might be the smartest play this afternoon. I'm going to run with the underdogs, however, for my free MLB pick.
My free MLB pick: LA Angels +125
Angels vs. Athletics Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Friday's series opener in Oakland between the Athletics and Los Angeles Angels wasn't officially 'over' until the fourth inning. But trust me, the game was over long before then.
Oakland came out swinging in the 9-5 decision, chasing LA starter Garrett Richards with a 5-run first en route to an early 7-zip lead. Josh Donaldson highlighted the A's attack with a pair of bleacher souvenirs, both he and Brandon Moss driving in four runs to increase the Athletics' lead in the AL West to 2.5 games ahead of the Angels.
Los Angeles turns to Tyler Skaggs in search of a series-leveling win Saturday; Tommy Milone delivers the game's first pitch at 10:05 PM (ET) for Oakland. Opening MLB odds held pretty steady in overnight trading with the A's priced in the -120 to -130 range and another 7.5 run total that carries extra tax on the high side.
Couple of California Southpaws Clash in Game 2
Some bad luck and shoddy fielding conspired against Skaggs on Memorial Day in Seattle where the Mariners posted a 5-1 triumph. The 22-year-old was charged with all five Seattle runs, but three were unearned and the result was just his and LA's second loss among his 10 starts this year.
Skaggs popped his cherry against the A's earlier this season, taking a no-decision in a 5-4 Angels victory that went 12 innings in Anaheim. Oakland got to him for four runs in the first six innings before Halo relievers shut the Athletics down after that. Milone also started that contest for the A's, working six frames and allowing three runs (2 earned).
The Oakland hurler had beaten the Angels in each of his previous three assignments at the Big A, recording a 4.70 ERA in those outings. Milone has had a lot of trouble with Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick in the past, Los Angeles' middle infield tandem combining for a .404 average (17-for-42) with Kendrick swatting a pair of homers.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & a Free Pick
Now in his eighth full season at the MLB level, Brian Knight dons the mask to call balls and strikes in Game 2. His 10 previous plate assignments have split 5-5 Home/Visitor and 5-5 O/U. Knight's lone appearance at The Coliseum this season (May 12) just eased past the total.
All signs point to a nice evening in Oakland where the forecast calls for clear skies and temps in the mid-60s at game time. Balls headed out to right field might have a little extra carry with an 8-12 mph westerly breeze.
Both squads have fared pretty well against left-handed starters in 2014, and tonight's hurlers are a combined 12-6-1 O/U/P. A contrarian view to Friday's lid-lifter on this set led to an 'over' winner, and playing that same role in Game 2 leaves me sending my free MLB pick out on the low side of the total.
My MLB pick: Angels-Athletics 'Under' 7.5 (+105)
Angels vs. Athletics Game 1
By: Willie Bee
With just a game-&-a-half between them at the top of the division, the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels are set to begin one of this weekend's most crucial series as the second month of the 2014 baseball betting schedule comes to an end.
Friday's series opener finds a couple of young hurlers on the mound in Oakland where the A's have Drew Pomeranz facing LA's Garrett Richards. Overnight action has Oakland settling in the upper -110s after opening a bit higher on the MLB odds, with a mix of 7's and 7.5's are available for bettors eyeing the total.
It was about six weeks ago when the AL West rivals squared off in their first meeting of 2014, the A's taking two of three at Anaheim in mid-April. The Athletics own a 399-322 all-time advantage in the series since they arrived in Oakland from Kansas City for the 1968 season, 205-153 at the venerable Coliseum.
'Over' bettors were rewarded twice in the series played earlier this campaign, and that was certainly the way to play the totals last year in Oakland where eight of the 10 played on this diamond sailed past the scoreboard tally. That leaves high-side bettors 11-3-1 during the last 15 matchups played in North Cali.
A's Slowing Down, Angels Heating Up
Los Angeles (30-23, +3.0 units, 28-23-2 O/U/P) is in the midst of a 3-series trip against division rivals, a trip to Houston vs. the red-hot Astros trailing this set in Oakland. The Angels just finished a 4-game series in Seattle where they earned a split thanks to Thursday's 7-5 triumph, and Mike Scioscia's club has been on a roll the past three weeks with 14 dubyas in their last 20.
The Athletics just opened their homestand with a split of their own, halving a 4-game series with the Detroit Tigers after a 5-4 setback in yesterday's matinee. Oakland (32-22, +3.6 units, 27-24-3 O/U/P) has slowed as May comes to a close, losing six of eight, and Bob Melvin would love to see his crew get back in a groove before beginning a long roadie that includes stops in the Bronx and Baltimore before ending in Anaheim against these Angels.
Pomeranz, Richards Making Friends With 'Under' Bettors
This might not be the marquee pitching matchup on Friday, certainly not in name recognition such as the clash in St. Louis between Adam Wainwright and San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, but Richards and Pomeranz are more than capable of squaring off in a duel.
Bettors have cashed seven of the 10 times that Richards has taken the mound this season, and parlaying the Angels with the 'under' in his assignments adds seven more winning tickets (0-6-1 O/U/P last 7). Seven is also the number of times the hard-throwing righthander has pitched seven innings, Richards' season debut in Houston back on April 4 the only start that lasted less than six frames.
One of LA's two losses with Richards on the hill came in Anaheim against the A's, the OU standout allowing five runs on eight hits in seven innings. He has yet to beat Oakland in five starts -- plus 4 relief appearances -- and owns a 3.79 career ERA at the Coliseum.
Pomeranz began the season pitching in long relief for the A's, finally breaking into the rotation in early-May. His first three starts were 5-inning scoreless jobs, but he finally ran into a little trouble last Sunday in Toronto where he was saddled with a 3-1 loss (4 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB). That was his second loss of the year, the first coming in Anaheim out of the bullpen back in April, one of two relief outings for Pomeranz in that series as he prepares to face the Angels as a starter for the first time.
A lot of humidity will be in the Oakland air tonight, but there's not much chance of rain for the 10:05 PM (ET) contest. Look for the thermometer to have already dropped into the 50's at first pitch with a 10-15 mph westerly breeze (out to right).
Tonight's starters have combined for 10 'under' winners in 14 contests, but I'm going to play the contrarian with my free baseball pick banking on enough offense to cash a winning 'over' ticket.
My Free MLB Pick: Angels-Athletics Over 7.5 (+105)
Season: 51-49 (+1.20)