Angels vs. Nationals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
It used to mean a lot, the 500 home run plateau. But that's no longer the case after so many years of inflated statistics during the steroids era.
Albert Pujols reached the 500 HR level with a pair of blasts in Tuesday's 7-2 win for the Los Angeles Angels, their second straight in the interleague series vs. the Washington Nationals. Some of the media is working overtime to drum up interest in the milestone, but the public just isn't buying it.
What baseball bettors are more interested in is today's series finale in the nation's capital, a 7:05 PM (ET) affair that pits Jered Weaver of the Angels opposite Nationals lefthander Gio Gonzalez on the mound. Washington is carrying -120 to -125 chalk for the matchup, down about 5¢ from the send-out.
SBR's live MLB odds show an agreement among the sports books with a 7 run total, the high side of that figure slightly favored.
Halos Aim For Sweep
Behind Staff Ace
Weaver finally notched a win his last time out, 3-hitting the Tigers and surrendering just one run through six in Detroit. The Angels dropped his first three assignments of 2014 while the lanky righthander built a bloated 5.79 ERA.
Wednesday night will be his cherry against the Nationals, having missed them during the previous two interleague series in 2008 and 2011. He has seen a few hitters in the Nats lineup, with Denard Span's 2-for-22 lifetime hitting record against Weaver the largest sample of the bunch.
Nats Cooling Off
Following Hot Start
Gonzalez had one bad outing at Atlanta about 10 days ago, but otherwise been solid. He and the Nationals are 3-1 in his four starts, all of which lasted at least six innings with the assignment vs. the Braves accounting for the only two homers Gonzalez has allowed in 25 innings.
The southpaw will be facing the Angels for the first time since 2011 when he was still in an Oakland jersey. Gonzalez was a thorn in LA's side during his tenure with the A's, posting a 7-2 record (Oakland 8-2) in his 10 starts along with a 2.53 ERA in 60.1 IP.
Washington bolted from the gate by winning seven of its first nine games, but has since dropped eight of 12. The Nationals are really struggling on this homestand, which continues over the weekend against the Padres, losing four of six and getting outscored 26-13 in the process.
The Nationals could break out of their hitting doldrums anytime now, but I'll ride their slump one more game with a free baseball pick on the visitors to complete the sweep.
My pick: Angels +110
Angels vs. Nationals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
It was supposed to be more about the two young superstars, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, when the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals got together for the opener of their series in DC. Instead, it turned into a battle on the mound between Garrett Richards, Tanner Roark and their respective bullpens.
In the end, a couple of fielding gaffes by Washington shortstop Ian Desmond proved costly for the Nats as the Angels rallied for a 4-2 victory. The two squads go right back to work Tuesday night (7:05 ET) with very similar betting numbers to Monday's matchup.
Tyler Skaggs is up next in Mike Scioscia's rotation while Taylor Jordan gets the ball from Washington's 1st-year manager Matt Williams, The Nationals can be found from -115 to -120 on SBR's live MLB odds, along with an 8 run total that mostly favors the 'under.'
Halos Hope Perfect
Start Behind Skaggs Continues
Though he has just one quality start among his three assignments this year, the Angels have won each game Skaggs has been on the mound, scoring five times in all three of the contests. The southpaw ran into some control issues his last time out, issuing three of the four walks he has allowed in 21 innings to an Oakland lineup while also allowing seven hits and all four runs the A's would plate.
The young Californian will be facing the Nats for the first time in his career, as well as facing an NL club in an interleague contest for the first time after spending the previous two seasons toiling for the Diamondbacks.
Desmond Off To Sloppy Start On Nats Infield
Washington almost got past Desmond's first error in the eighth unscathed, but Raul Ibañez eventually made the Nats pay and Desmond committed his second miscue of the frame just for good measure. The former 3rd-round pick has committed nine errors in his first 20 games, compared to 20 in 158 games a year ago.
Jordan is coming off consecutive losses in which he allowed 12 runs -- 10 earned -- and 17 hits in 10.1 combined innings vs. the Braves and Cardinals. In his support, Washington hitters haven't exactly gifted him with much offense to work with, scoring only five runs in his three assignments to date.
Like his counterpart for the Halos, Jordan will be facing the Angels for the first time in what will just be his 13th big league start. Tuesday is also his first look at an AL lineup.
There is some rain expected in the Washington DC area today, but it's supposed to clear out by the time Jordan delivers the opening toss. A pretty strong NW breeze (15 mph left to right) will remain behind the showers.
The bats didn't get it done for us last night, but I'm going to come back with another 'over' play for my free baseball pick in Game 2.
My pick: Angels-Nationals Over 8 (-105)
Season: 18-19 (-2.05)
Angels vs. Nationals Game 1
By: Willie Bee
The Washington Nationals are anxious to show 2013 was a fluke and that they are bona fide contenders for the NL East title. After four years of disappointment as favorites in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels are desperate to get back into the playoff picture to reap at least some return on a couple of big free agent shopping sprees.
The West meets East clash is the only interleague series taking place during the first half of Week 4, and it all gets underway Monday night (7:05 PM ET) in the nation's capital. The Angels open the set with Garrett Richards on the mound opposite Tanner Roark, with Washington small home chalk on the moneyline.
SBR's live MLB odds has 8 for the total, 'under' bettors required to pay a higher tax.
This week marks the fifth series between the Halos and Nats, including the first meeting when Washington was still playing ball in Quebec. They got together three years ago, also in DC, and LA swept the series with one blowout and a pair of 1-run victories.
The Angels have an 8-4 edge over the course of the previous four gatherings, and three of the last four in Washington (at two different parks) failed to reach the total, including a pair of 1-0 contests won by Los Angeles.
Continues For Angels
Los Angeles (8-10, -4.4 units) was in Detroit over the past weekend, the first series of a long road trip that continues in New York against the Yankees next weekend, a series we'll also follow at SBR.
This is the third road start for Richards, the previous two going into the LA's win column while the former star at Oklahoma yielded just one run and four hits in a combined 12 innings vs. Houston and Seattle. He followed those outings with a rough go of things in Anaheim last Tuesday, surrendering five runs in seven frames to the A's who were eventual 10-9 winners.
Richards will be taking on the Nationals for the first time in his career, and has just one other interleague start while bouncing between the Halos rotation and bullpen. That came nearly two years ago at home against the Diamondbacks, and was a beauty (8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H).
Nats Split With Cards To Begin 11-Game Homestand
Washington (11-8, +1.1 units) fell into a win one, lose one rut last week, and if that trend continues, the Nationals are due for a setback Monday after rallying to nip the Cardinals with a walk-off sac fly on Sunday.
Roark has one bad start mixed in with two quality efforts, the Nationals 2-1 overall in his trips to the mound. All three of his assignments have been on the road with the victories coming against the Mets and Marlins, the loss taking place in Atlanta.
Monday will be just the second time in his brief career -- and first start -- that Roark has faced an American League team. The former Fightin' Illini made a long appearance out of the 'pen last year at Kansas City, and came away with the dubya in the Nationals' wild 11-10 decision over the Royals.
The weather looks good for Monday's matchup -- clear skies, temps in mid-60s at game time -- but bettors will want to keep an eye on Tuesday's forecast when there's a good chance of rain in the DC area.
Neither offense showed much the past couple of days, and this will be the first time to step into the batter's box at Nationals Park for several young Angels. I still like the high side of the total for Game 1, and am adding that to Monday's list of free MLB picks.
My pick: Angels-Nationals Over 8 (+105)
Season: 18-17 (+0.15)