ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball crew is back in the Lone Star State to bring the first week of the schedule to a close with yet another AL West collision, and there's potential for a solid pitchers duel as the Rangers host Los Angeles Angels.
The rubber game of this set gets underway a little past 8 PM (ET), and there should be a bit of a playoff buzz in the crowd despite this game only finishing up the first of six series meetings on the slate. Jeff Weaver and Yu Darvish will each take their second turn in the rotation for their respective clubs, and the MLB odds at 5Dimes find the Rangers -134 favorites along with an 8.5 run total that leans to the UNDER.
Texas grabbed the series opener on Friday behind Derek Holland in a 3-2 victory, but the Halos came right back in Game 2 as Albert Pujols broke out of his first-week slump with two of LA's four homers for an 8-4 triumph. In what will be the 802nd matchup between the two foes, the Angels bring a 411-390 edge into Sunday's tilt.
Last year saw the Angels win 10 of the 19 battles, and they are 85-69 at Rangers Ballpark since it opened in 1994 (39-39 since 2005). Seven of the 10 games played on this diamond in 2012 produced nine runs or more, and in the six games played at Rangers Ballpark that Weaver or Darvish appeared (three each), an average of 13.5 runs came plateward.
Hamilton Off To Slow Start As His New Club Faces His Old Mates
The Angels raided the Rangers for a second straight offseason and signed a former Texas star via the free agent market. It was starting pitcher CJ Wilson prior to 2012 before convincing slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton to change sides this past winter.
It didn't work out well for Wilson against his former teammates last year when he recorded a 7.65 ERA in five starts vs. Texas (Angels 2-3), and it hasn't started well for Hamilton who is 0-for-8 with a walk so far in this series and hitting just .050 (1-for-20) on the young campaign.
Hamilton doesn't seem to know that he's in a slump, appearing far more interested in how Rangers fans are treating him and his family members who have attended both games in Texas. Following the repeated loud chorus of boos in Friday's game, his first back in Texas since joining the Angels, Hamilton took a stab at Rangers fans by saying the crowd "was louder than any playoff game."
Be sure to follow my winning picks blog on the Dodgers vs. Pirates series!
Darvish Takes Hill Off Near Perfect Game
While Hamilton has being booed in Arlington, Yu Darvish was showered with a lot of cheers and applause in Houston on Tuesday when he made his first start of the year. Even Astros fans were cheering him as he came within an out of a perfect game in Texas' 7-0 victory that saw the 2nd-year star strike out a career-best 14.
Weaver worked a day earlier in Cincinnati, allowing just two hits and a run over six innings in a no-decision vs. the Reds. The contest went 13 innings before the Angels grabbed the 3-1 dubya. Weaver got beat up on this mound last season (6.48 ERA), but the Halos still managed to come away winners in two of the three affairs. His last nine starts on this field have seen him produce a 5.85 ERA (55.1 IP) with the Angels going 4-5.
Larry Vanover should be south of the dish tonight. The past three seasons have seen his games behind the plate trend OVER, and that's how his 2013 began this past Tuesday with the total pushing past the number in Milwaukee where the Brewers fell to the Colorado Rockies, 8-4.
Current forecasts for the D-FW area are calling for a rather muggy start to the game with the thermometer in the mid-70s. The weatherman is also calling for some gusty winds out of the S/SE. Even though the winds are blowing in from right/right-center in this hitter-friendly park, they can swirl a bit inside the stadium and actually help push balls out to center/right-center.
A general wagering rule in baseball is fade a pitcher after a no-hitter, and while Darvish came up short in his perfect game, I'm tempted to get behind the Angels tonight as small road dogs. Instead, I'm going with the history of the two pitchers at this park when the Angels and Rangers meet, and adding the OVER to my Sunday MLB picks.
Season: 5-3 ($2.05)