Thursday's Game Four
By: Willie Bee
Alfonso Soriano is having a series to remember, and the New York Yankees are in position to pull off their third 4-game sweep of the season as a result.
The Yankees and Los Angeles Angels bring this set and their regular season matchups to a close in one of four matinees on Thursday's MLB betting card. Phil Hughes will deliver the first pitch at Yankee Stadium a little past 1 PM (ET), with CJ Wilson getting the call for the Angels. The contest went out close to a pick, but the morning line finds New York a slight favorite at several shops listed on SBR's live MLB odds. Game 4's total is 8.5 or 9 runs.
Soriano might reach that total all by himself if his performances the past two nights are any indication. A game after tying his career best of six RBI and banging two homers, Soriano drove in seven with two more blasts in New York's 11-3 victory on Wednesday. His grand slam in the first inning of Game 3 was all Ivan Nova needed to help the Yanks to their fourth consecutive win, and hand the Halos their fourth straight loss.
The Angels stopped a 2-game slide with Wilson on the mound last Saturday in Cleveland. The southpaw worked into the sixth allowing two runs and getting away with four walks to pick up his 12th win of the year. It was Wilson's fifth win in his last six road assignments, and the Halos are 7-6 when he starts on the road where his ERA is 4.64 compared to a 2.35 mark at home.
He beat the Yankees in Anaheim on June 14 of this season, leaving him 2-1 in three starts vs. New York since joining the Angels (2.25 ERA, 20 IP).
Hughes' struggles continued last Saturday at home vs. the Tigers, a 9-3 loss in which the righty never made it through the fifth inning. That was his third straight start to fall short of five full frames, and the Yankees are 4-11 in his last 15 trips to the mound. Hughes also hasn't fared well vs. the Angels over the years; five starts have yielded a 1-4 record for New York while he was charged with 26 earned runs in 24 innings.
Tony Randazzo will complete the umpire rotation when he calls the balls and strikes in Thursday's finale. The Chicago native just observed his 14th anniversary as an MLB ump and has a heavy UNDER record (8-15-1 O/U/P) for 2013. He's worked one game in the Bronx this season (June 4), and that contest stayed below the total.
It should be a lovely afternoon for baseball with the thermometer climbing into the upper-70s and clear skies. I've got no confidence in Hughes to pull the sweep off, and know better than to play the Angels right now. OVER is my free play for Thursday.
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Are things finally coming together for the New York Yankees and, if so, is it a case of too little, too late? New York bats exploded in Tuesday's 14-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels, and the Yankees now take aim at their first 4-game win streak since early July.
They'll have to beat one of the best pitchers in the majors to make it happen as the Angels have Jered Weaver on the hill for Wednesday's third contest of this 4-game set. Ivan Nova gets the call for New York, and after opening as -110 favorites, the Yankees have been pushed up to $1.20 chalk at most shops charted by SBR's live MLB odds. A 7.5 run total that leans to the UNDER is also on the betting card.
Alfonso Soriano smacked two homers and drove in a personal-best six runs in Tuesday's blowout. The 14 runs were the most for New York since scoring 10 on July 1, and tied the season-high set in Cleveland on April 9, the eighth game of the year.
Weaver should be working on a 5-game win streak entering Wednesday, but a bullpen meltdown at Texas in late-July kept that from happening. The Angels are 3-4 in his seven road starts, Weaver's 3.74 ERA in those contest about 1.5 runs higher than when he pitches at home. The Yankees pounded on him out in Anaheim back in June (6 IP, 5 ER), and they knocked him around in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, but his offense was also busy pounding on Ivan Nova in that July 2012 contest to help Weaver and the Halos to the 10-8 triumph.
That start against Weaver a year ago started a downward spiral for Nova; he entered that game 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA before going 2-5 the rest of the way with a 7.05 ERA. A trip to the DL and some time in the bullpen seems to have straightened the big Dominican out, with New York winning four of his six assignments since the end of June and his ERA a tiny 1.60 in that stretch.
A couple of Angel hitters who have really given Nova fits are Chris Iannetta and Mark Trumbo, each with a couple of homers while combining for a .611 average (11-for-18).
Larry Vanover has rewarded UNDER bettors more often than not this year (9-12 O/U), but his last two plate assignments have cashed OVER tickets. Rain briefly interrupted Game 2, but there's no wet stuff in Wednesday's forecast when clear skies and temps in the low-70s are expected for the first pitch, plus a 10-14 mph NW wind (out to right).
I do like the OVER for a third straight game, but will instead make my free sports pick on Weaver and the Halos as small 'dogs.
My pick: Angels +113 at Bet365
Check out our Wednesday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Pitching prevailed Monday night in the series opener between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, a rare occurrence when the clubs meet in the Bronx. Now a couple of southpaws get a shot to perform an encore in Game 2.
Monday's setback has the Angels looking to even the set with Jason Vargas on the mound for his first start in nearly two months following a trip to the DL. New York counters with CC Sabathia and the MLB odds have the Yankees favored in the -140 to -145 range. An 8.5 run total awaits scoreboard bettors.
Hiroki Kuroda and Garrett Richards hooked up in a nice duel to begin the series, with Richards taking the tough-luck 2-1 loss as Kuroda hurled eight shutout innings before turning things over to his bullpen to close things out. It wasn't Mariano Rivera performing the usual 9th-inning role for Joe Girardi and the Yanks, however. Boone Logan and David Robertson combined for the final three outs, and it was anything but a comfortable save for Robertson who had to survive a bases-loaded situation to preserve the victory.
Jason Vargas has spent the past two months recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from his left arm, and made just one official rehab start to get ready for his return. He was dealt from Seattle to the Angels last December, and got off to a rough start with his new club in April before settling down. The Halos went 8-6 in Vargas' first 14 assignments before his surgery.
Sabathia takes his seventh stab at picking up win No. 10 on the season, a feat that would extend his string of double-digit victories to 13 consecutive seasons. The current 6-game losing skid for the Yankees with CC on the hill includes the portly port-sider allowing 28 earned runs in a combined 36 innings. He worked into the ninth against the Halos in Anaheim on June 16 before needing bullpen help, and is 7-8 lifetime vs. the Angels with a 4.08 ERA.
Rain is expected to fall across the Big Apple all day, with some heavy thunderstorms possible before tapering off around game time. David Rackley, a fill-in umpire the past few seasons, is up next in the rotation for plate duty, and the Houston native brings a 3-5-2 O/U/P record into the tilt. Tuesday will mark his first career plate assignment at Yankee Stadium.
I'm going to chalk Monday's low-scoring affair up as just an anomaly for these two clubs, and come right back with an OVER for my free sports pick in Game 2.
My pick: Angels-Yankees Over 8.5 (-110)
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
If you like listening to announcers ramble about steroids, this week's series in New York between the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels is perfect for you. Whether they're talking about Alex Rodriguez playing while appealing his suspension for PEDs or Albert Pujols suing for being accused of using them, the voices behind the mics will talk about it one way or another.
The ESPN crew will definitely work the topic into Monday' series opener (7 PM ET), maybe cut from the booth to Buster Olney talking about how A-Rod handled the Big Apple media this past weekend when the Yankees hosted the Tigers, then to the studio so Curt Schilling and John Kruk can tell you what they think before getting back to the actual game on the field.
That game on the field features Garrett Richards on the mound for the Angels opposite Hiroki Kuroda, a pair of righthanders who are seeing the opposition for the first time in 2013. New York is priced in the -150 to -155 range at most shops listed on SBR's live MLB odds, and the 8 run total is split evenly at many baseball betting outlets while leaning to the OVER at others.
Clubs Enter Series Off Opposite Sunday Results
It has been another trying season for the Angels who were among the American League favorites entering 2013, and Sunday's contest in Cleveland was a perfect example. Mike Scioscia's troops jumped out to a five-zip lead against an Indians club that had dropped six straight, only to let the Tribe come back for a 6-5 victory.
The opposite result was recorded in the Bronx where Mariano Rivera blew his third straight save before Brett Gardner's homer in the bottom of the ninth lifted New York to a 5-4 triumph. Gardner's homer was his second walk-off hit in the weekend set, but Rivera's recent struggles still have to be a concern for manager Joe Girardi as the Yanks try to claw their way back into the AL playoff picture.
Richards has pitched well since rejoining the LA rotation at the end of July (18 IP, 5 ER), but the Angels are just 1-2 in his three assignments. The former Sooner's most recent trip to the mound was last Tuesday vs. the Rangers (6 IP, 3 ER), another game that Angels relievers let get away. He has seen the Yankees once as a starter and once as a reliever, allowing six runs in six innings.
Success in July didn't follow Kuroda into August after dropping his start last Tuesday in Chicago to the White Sox. The righty pitched well enough, but nothing like his five July starts, four of which were scoreless outings including a Yankees loss to Baltimore on July 7. Kuroda's only appearance for New York vs. the Angels was a good one on this mound in April 2012 (8 IP, 0 ER). That win left him 2-2 lifetime against the Halos with a 2.67 ERA, including three interleague starts while with the Dodgers.
Find out where Jeff Grant is looking to place his picks in this matchup.
Over Rules When Clubs Meet At New Yankee Stadium
These teams met about two months ago in Anaheim where the Angels took two of three and the totals split down the middle with an OVER, an UNDER and a push. The Yankees and the OVER have ruled the matchups at the new Bronx park since it opened in 2009. New York backers have cashed 12 of those 18 contests while the totals have run 12-4-2 O/U/P.
There is a slight chance of rain for the series opener, but nothing that should postpone the contest. Humid with temps in the mid-to-upper 70s is the current forecast before storms roll in overnight.
How much should we read into Rivera's struggles the past week? Is it just a once-in-a-career blip, or is history's best closer going to close out the final two months of his career on a sour note? Perhaps we'll know the answer to that in the next four games, but for now I'm going to simply make my free play on the OVER to begin this set.
My pick: Angels-Yankees Over 8 (-110) at Bet365