Game 3: The Los Angeles Angels continue their road trip with a
weekend series in
Ten games under .500 and just barely avoided being swept by one of the worst teams in the annals of Major League Baseball history. Yeah, I'd say that qualifies the Los Angeles Angels as this year's most disappointing team after beginning the season as the favorites to win the American League pennant.
Sunday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Fans of left-handed pitchers are in luck this evening when ESPN brings the sixth week of the season to a close with its regular Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. In addition to the drama of the Los Angeles Angels going for a sweep in their series with the Chicago White Sox, two of the American League's better southpaws will be on the hill for the 8 PM (ET) contest.
Both CJ Wilson of LA and Chicago's Chris Sale are seeking their fourth victories of the 2013 campaign, and the MLB oddssuggest a tight battle with the White Sox drawing -120 chalk. Angels backers will receive +110 in the event of a victory, with scoreboard bettors facing their conundrum on a 7.5 run total.
Game 2 of the set Saturday night started out with a lot of offense just as Game 1 began on Friday. And just like the series opener, the bats went quiet the rest of the way in the 3-2 Angels triumph. Ernesto Frieri secured LA's third consecutive win with his third save in as many games, and we shouldn't expect the Halos' closer to make an appearance for a fourth straight day.
Los Angeles won four straight starts by Wilson before seeing that string snapped last Tuesday in Houston. Wilson served up a couple of homers while striking out 12, but defense cost him to the tune of five unearned runs in the eventual 7-6 defeat. Defense and control issues also cost him in his lone appearance vs. Chicago last season, resulting in his only career loss to the White Sox.
Chicago has won Sale's last three assignments, most recently a 2-1 dubya in Kansas City on Monday. Sale worked into the eighth and didn't figure into the decision that went the way of the Pale Hose in 11 innings. Wilson's loss to the White Sox last season was Sale's only career start vs. the Angels, a game that the lanky lefty allowed one run in 5+ innings.
Most of the game will be played with temps in the mid-to-upper 40s, and a 10-12 mph NW wind is in the forecast (LF pole to RF pole). Umpire Ed Hickox is slated to work the plate and brings a 6-1 O/U record into Sunday's contest.
The underdog price on the Angels to sweep is the way I'll play this one. Earlier on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox and Blue Jays wrap up their set in Boston, so don't miss our preview and free pick in that contest.
My pick: Angels +110
Saturday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
For fans at US Cellular Field on Friday, it was like getting two games for the price of one in the series opener between the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox. The first part was all about offense as the clubs combined for 10 runs in the initial four innings, and Part 2 was all about pitching and defense.
The Angels came up with the best of both halves and now look to go up 2-0 in the series Saturday night when the clubs reconvene on the Windy City's South Side. Game 2 has settled in around a pick 'em on the morning MLB odds, some betting outlets slightly favoring one side or the other, and an 8.5 run total is priced a little more to the high side for the pitching matchup between LA's Jerome Williams and Chicago's Jose Quintana.
Los Angeles watched an early 5-1 lead evaporate Friday before coming away with the 7-5 dubya. Angels relievers, who have been shaky at best in 2013, proved the difference in Game 1 with almost six innings of scoreless baseball.
Williams is making his second start of '13 after beginning the year in the Angels bullpen. The beefy righthander was roughed up last Sunday by the Orioles in his only other assignment, and is facing the White Sox for just the third time in a starting role. He beat Chicago last year in Anaheim, and is climbing the hill at The Cell for the first time since his 2003 rookie season.
Quintana is seeing the Angels for only the second time in his brief career, losing the previous start against them in Anaheim last September when his defense let him down. The lefty has walked just nine in almost 33 innings, not a bad figure, but his problem is working too deep into counts and averaging less than six frames per outing as a result.
Veteran umpire Jeff Nelson has been a friend to road underdogs and UNDER bettors this year as he prepares for his ninth plate assignment. Home favorites are 0-4 so far while his mark on the totals is 3-5 O/U.
A cool, damp day is in store for Chicago, and wind could be a factor. The thermometer is expected to drop into the 40s during the contest and a WNW wind in the 15-20 mph range will help balls heading out to left-center.
My play in this one will be on the visitors, despite being wary of Williams on the mound. We're also previewing the series between the Blue Jays and Red Sox in Boston this weekend, so check out our pick for Game 2 of that series.
My pick: Angels +104 at 5Dimes
By: Willie Bee
Mike Scioscia's club also reaches Chicago for a weekend series against the White Sox with their pitching rotation in disarray. Tommy Hanson was originally slated to start Friday's first game of the set, but his stepbrother passed away this week and he has been placed on the bereavement list.
The Halos had yet to announce who would take Hanson's place as we went to press, so MLB odds are still forthcoming. Dylan Axelrod will take his turn in the Chicago rotation.
It's tough to find a closer series throughout history with the White Sox holding a 348-347 edge on the Halos. That record includes Chicago's 58-51 mark at US Cellular Field since it first opened in 1991.
The Angels have won 11 of the last 16, however, and four of the last six in Chicago. Two of the three played at The Cell last season went OVER.
Take a look at my Blue Jays vs. Red Sox Series Coverage.
Angels Limp Into Windy City Series
Reshuffling his rotation is only part of Scioscia's problem as this series gets underway. The Angels left Houston with a couple of new injury concerns after just avoiding being broomed by the Astros, and both the bullpen and the bench could be shorthanded throughout the weekend.
Shortstop Erick Aybar left Thursday's game at Houston in the fourth inning with what is being called a mild strain to his right hamstring. He could miss the entire series in Chicago, and Brendan Harris will take his spot. Left-handed reliever Scott Downs also suffered an injury to his right foot in that contest, and is day-to-day.
Albert Pujols, who is hitting just .238, is also hobbled with a sore right knee and sore right foot. He was limited to DH duty the last two games vs. the Astros.
Scioscia has three choices for his pitcher Friday night, one of them being Jerome Williams who was scheduled for Saturday's game. If he moves up a day, Williams would still be working on his normal 4-day rest after taking the loss at home to the Orioles last Sunday.
The Angels might also dip down to the Triple-A roster in Salt Lake City to bring up either Barry Enright or Orangel Arenas, both righthanders. Enright worked out of the Angels' bullpen earlier this season and has 24 major league starts on his resume, all with the Diamondbacks in 2010-11. Arenas would be making his MLB debut.
White Sox Come Off Road Bringing Up Rear Of AL Central
Chicago just completed a 4-4 road trip that started by taking two of three in Texas from the Rangers. The White Sox split a two-game set at the Mets to conclude the trip, and have this short series at home vs. the Angels before heading right back out on the road next week, a journey that will include four at the Angels in Anaheim next weekend.
Offense has been Chicago's weakness this season as the club ranks just ahead of the Mariners in scoring and dead last in the AL with a .654 team OPS. Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn each have six homers, but they've struck out 41 times apiece and Dunn is batting under a buck-fifty.
Axelrod is making his seventh start of the campaign and will be in search of his fifth consecutive quality outing on Friday. Despite that good run, Chicago has gone down in defeat his last three assignments while he compiled a 2.74 ERA in the contests.
Friday will be Axelrod's cherry against the Angels, though he did face Josh Hamilton while he was with the Rangers last year. Hamilton had a homer and a single in three tries against the Pale Hose hurler.
With no odds out yet, and LA's hurler still undecided, we can't make a definitive selections with our MLB picks quite yet. Regardless who is on the hill for the Angels, Chicago should be the favorite, and a pronounced one should Enright or Arenas get the call. It's going to be a cool and damp evening in Chicago according to the weatherman, with a 10-15 mph NW wind blowing out to center, and my initial lean is to back Axelrod at home.My MLB Pick: Lean White Sox as home favorites