Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
The hole keeps getting deeper for the Los Angeles Angels while some of last year's magic appears to be returning for the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore brooms are on the ready at Camden Yards today when the O's look to complete a sweep of the Halos. The noon-thirty matinee gets underway with a mound duel pitting Jerome Williams against Jason Hammel and chalk from the low -120s to the mid -130s can be found on the Orioles with the MLB odds listing a 9.5 run total (U -115).
The Orioles posted their second consecutive 1-run victory over the Angels with a 3-2 decision on Tuesday. Miguel Gonzalez made one mistake during his eight innings of work, a solo shot by Mike Trout, and Jim Johnson garnered his third save in as many days. Baltimore crept a bit closer to the Red Sox and Yankees, who both lost Tuesday, in the AL East race, and has now won four of its past six 1-run affairs. The Angels, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight contest to leave them 2-8 mark so far in June.
Williams is making his second start this month and seventh of the season to go with 10 appearances out of the 'pen on the year. The righty made his first start of 2013 on May 5 in Anaheim against the O's who plated five before chasing Williams in the fifth. That was his only career loss to the Orioles after winning his first three starts against them times he faced them (once with the Giants and twice with the Angels).
He followed the loss vs. Baltimore with five straight quality starts before being sent to the bullpen when Jeff Weaver returned from the DL, and most recently worked three innings of relief in Boston last Saturday (3 ER, 2 on a David Ortiz homer).
The umpire rotation is for Andy Fletcher to work the plate Wednesday afternoon, and the 15-year veteran has a slight UNDER lean (6-7 O/U) after three successive seasons of a modest OVER edge. Warm and muggy is the forecast for Baltimore this afternoon with rain chances picking up as the day progresses. Hammel got the dubya in that game Williams lost that also ended the previous series in Anaheim. In reverse of Williams' history vs. Baltimore, it was Hammel's first career victory over the Halos after losing his first three assignments against them (once with the Rays and twice last year for the Orioles). Howie Kendrick has reached base seven times in 11 plate appearances vs. Hammel while Mike Trout is 4-for-10 with a homer.
Johnson is probably not available today for the Orioles, meaning Darren O'Day might have to shoulder closing duties. I'll still fade the sliding Angels with a play on the O's. The series between the Giants and Pirates in Pittsburgh has yet another intriguing pitching match for Game 2 tonight, with a preview and free pick just a click away.
My pick: Orioles -122 at Bet365
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Just as we suspected, rain did factor into Monday's series opener in Baltimore between the Orioles and Los Angeles Angels. What I didn't foresee was Halos hitters having trouble with O's starter Freddy Garcia as Game 1 went to the home team.
The Angels will try and stop the bleeding while leveling the series Tuesday night when they send Jason Vargas to the mound at Oriole Park. Baltimore counters with Miguel Gonzalez who will carry around a -125 favorite's tag into the affair. MLB odds this morning are unanimous with a 9.5 run total that is priced a little higher on the OVER.
The Orioles scored just enough runs off LA's Jered Weaver in Monday's 4-3 triumph, though it was Mother Nature who would eventually force the Angels' ace from the game with a rain delay of more than two hours. The loss was the third straight for the bunch from Anaheim, and dropped the Angels into fourth place of the AL West. Baltimore remained third in the AL East standings to keep pace with the Red Sox and Yankees who were also winners to begin the 11th week of the 2013 schedule.
Vargas had a pretty good run going for about six weeks with seven strong outings in an 8-start span, lowering his ERA more than three runs in the process while the Halos won six straight in that stretch. But that streak was snapped against the Cubs last Wednesday when Vargas was knocked around for 11 hits and five runs in an 8-6 loss.
The southpaw crafted a 3-hit shutout vs. the Orioles in early-May, the only dubya in four games Angels won in that series, continuing his career success against Baltimore though it didn't always translate into wins in a Seattle jersey.
Gonzalez was on the losing end of Vargas' whitewashing in Anaheim on May 3, but has since helped pitch the O's to a 3-1 mark after allowing three runs in six innings that night. The righty has held Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton each to 1-for-6 ledgers the last two seasons, Trout's lone hit the only homer that trio has managed vs. Gonzalez.
More rain is possible in Baltimore during the day, but it should move off by the time Gonzalez makes his first pitch and leave muggy temps in the 80s with a WNW breeze (left to right). Sam Holbrook will be behind the plate for the umpire crew, and is 6-5-1 O/U/P on the season.
The OVER was my initial thought, but instead I'm going to get behind the Birds as small chalk in their own backyard. We'll close out this series on Wednesday with another preview and more free MLB picks.
My pick: Orioles -123 at Bet365
Monday Game One
By: Willie Bee
Let's get some of the bad news out of way first. Monday's series opener in Baltimore between the Orioles and Angels appears destined to be affected by rain, which could force the squads to play a doubleheader Tuesday or later in August.
Then again, the way the Angels have been playing, Mike Scioscia and his crew might prefer to have the entire season rained out and made up at a later date.
If there's any good news for the Halos it's the fact they'll have their ace on the hill Monday when the 3-game set in Charm City gets underway, weather permitting, of course. Jered Weaver gets the call for Game 1 which finds the Anaheim 9 favored on the MLB odds board. Numbers started in the -140s but have been pushed down to the -120 to -135 range in overnight action.
Freddy Garcia will kick things off for the Orioles and an 8.5 run total awaits a decision by baseball bettors.
Angels Begin June On Downward Spiral
After showing promise of turning things around in the second half of May, the Angels have reverted to their old ways with just two wins in their last nine contests. The Halos closed the previous month with a 10-3 spurt before everything started to go south thanks to the Astros coming to Anaheim and pulling off a 4-game sweep.
Scioscia's troops saw rain postpone the start of this road trip last Friday in Boston, forcing a doubleheader on Saturday which they split. Sunday's series finale in Beantown went to the Red Sox, leaving the Angels in third place in the AL West a half-game in front of Seattle.
Weaver spent most of the first two months on the DL with a broken left elbow, but has returned to make two solid starts that each went into LA's win column by identical 4-3 scores vs. the Dodgers and Cubs. Keeping him healthy the rest of the way is a must for the Halos who rank 11th in the American League with a 4.41 ERA, the rotation contributing a 4.49 mark in that column.
Monday's assignment is only his second outing of 2013 against an AL club, and comes against a team he has had success facing in the past. Nine previous starts vs. Baltimore have yielded a 6-3 record for both Weaver and the Angels, four of those victories coming in the last five outings against the Orioles which include two wins in as many tries at Camden Yards.
Bats Helping O's Stick Around In AL East Race
The Baltimore lineup will definitely test the pitching-challenged Angels this week. A 4.95 runs per game clip ranks third in the AL (4th in the majors), and the Orioles are tied with Atlanta for the most homers in the big leagues with 85 while placing third in stolen bases (49).
They have needed all of those runs to support a pitching staff that ranks 29th with a 4.56 ERA. The lineup was held to just one run in losing the first two games at Tampa Bay this past weekend, but rebounded with a 10-7 triumph Sunday to avoid the Rays' brooms and return home to begin this weeklong homestand only 3.5 games out of the AL East lead.
Garcia was pummeled in Houston his last trip to the mound, snapping a 2-game win streak that included eight shutout frames against the Nationals at the end of May. The 15-year veteran made his season debut against the Angels on May 4 (6.2 IP, 2 ER), and while he didn't figure into the decision that went in Baltimore's favor, the assignment continued his general success against Anaheim. His various teams have now won his last 10 starts vs. the Halos -- including a 2005 ALCS win over LA while he was with the White Sox -- and Garcia owns a 16-3 lifetime mark against them with a 2.66 ERA.
Baltimore won three of four in Anaheim when the clubs met in early-May, and is 56-48 at Camden Yards vs. the Angels. But the Halos have found some recent success when playing on the Orioles' diamond with wins in each of their last three tilts on this field. Two of those were with Weaver on the hill, and that's the way I'll play the series opener for my MLB picks on Monday.
My pick: Angels -125 at Bet365