Astros vs. Angels Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Just when it seemed like everything was going their way, nothing seemed to go right for the Houston Astros in a 9-3 loss Tuesday night to the Los Angeles Angels, the series-leveling decision setting up a rubber game between the two clubs on Wednesday.
Scheduled as the final game on today's MLB betting card (10:05 PM ET), the Angels are pronounced favorites at home behind their ace Jered Weaver, bettors required to open up their wallets with a -205 moneyline. Houston counters with Collin McHugh, an 8 run total showing up across the board on SBR's live MLB odds.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning Tuesday and never looked back. All three runs were unearned thanks to a boot by Houston 1B Chris Carter, and the Astros would help the Halos out with another fielding gaffe in the fifth. Mike Trout drove in three runs and David Freese, activated from the DL just before the game, added four RBI.
Weaver Out To Avenge
April Loss In Houston
Claimed off waivers last winter from the Rockies, McHugh was on fire when he first joined the Astros rotation in late-April. An 18th-round pick by the Mets in 2008, the righthander won his first two starts with 19 strikeouts in those 15+ innings.
McHugh has since cooled off considerable, Houston dropping his last three assignments while he pitched to a 6.89 ERA. Wednesday will be his first look at the Angels lineup, with Freese the only batter in the mix who has faced him previously.
Weaver heads to the bump for his 10th start of 2014, LA standing 4-5 in the previous nine after losing his first three appearances. The lanky hurler has been tough to beat since his initial three contests, posting a splendid 1.86 ERA in the last six starts that included a 4-1 victory vs. the Yankees a little more than two weeks ago.
The Astros banged four homers off Weaver when the clubs met in early-April at Minute Maid Park. That was only the second time he faced Houston after beating them on the same diamond last September.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Gerry Davis brings a 3-4-1 O/U/P mark into Wednesday's game, and this is his second plate assignment of 2014 in a Weaver-pitched contest. The 32-year veteran umpire called Weaver's April 18 outing in Detroit that went 'over' the mark with an 11-6 final in the Angels' favor, 12 of those runs courtesy of the two bullpens.
The weatherman has included a 10% chance of rain in Anaheim today, but clouds are expected to move out by game time with a first-pitch temp around 67º. A light WSW breeze (out to right-center) is also in the forecast.
Trout had to leave last night's game with some soreness in his left leg and could miss the series finale, but the Angels are expected to bring OF Kole Calhoun (ankle) off the DL for this one to add more punch to the attack. Trout or no Trout, I'm sticking with LA on the run line for my free pick once again.
My pick: Angels -1.5 (+105)
Season: 44-42 (+1.3)
Astros vs. Angels Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Excellent work on the mound and early offense were the ingredients for a Houston Astros win Monday night in their series opener against the Los Angeles Angels. The victory gives Houston a shot at securing a third-straight series triumph when the clubs reconvene in Anaheim on Tuesday.
Grabbing the cheese in Game 2 requires the Astros to once again do so as decided underdogs in the 10:05 PM (ET) contest at Angel Stadium. Los Angeles is sending southpaw Tyler Skaggs to the mound as $1.75 chalk while Houston counters with Scott Feldman. SBR's live MLB odds show an 8 run total priced to the 'under.'
Houston's lineup gave Dallas Keuchel an early 5-0 lead on Monday, and the Razorback lefty baffled Angel hitters until running out of steam in the ninth. Keuchel burned through a career-high 128 pitches in search of his second consecutive shutout, ending up with the Astros' third-straight win for the first time in 2014.
Feldman, Skaggs Look
For 2nd Wins In Season Series
Count me among those who thought the Astros weren't making a very good deal in signing Feldman to a 3-year, $30 million deal this past winter. The righty entered 2014 with a career ERA up around 4½ and has been at best a No. 4 arm for a rotation along the way. Feldman has so far proved me wrong, even with the short DL stint due to a biceps strain, and one of his best starts so far came against these Angels on April 6 (7 IP, 1 ER).
He has been hit or miss at Angel Stadium over the years, however, making six starts and five relief appearances. All combined, Feldman is 2-3 on this mound with a 5.30 ERA.
One of Skaggs' three wins came in early April against the Astros in Houston where he was charged with one unearned run in eight strong innings. That was the first time he had ever faced the Astros, and Skaggs has been far better on the road (1.57 ERA, 3 starts) than in Anaheim (6.91 ERA, 5 starts). He has been knocked around a bit at times as his 4.53 ERA might indicated, but the bottom line is the Angels are 7-1 in his eight trips to the hill, bettors reaping 6.1 units of black ink from the southpaw.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
The totals are split 4-4 in Phil Cuzzi's eight plate assignments this season, though it's worth mentioning that both games the veteran umpire worked involving either Houston or LA stayed 'under' the mark. Even more intriguing is the 1-5 record home favorites have with Cuzzi under the mask.
The forecast remains perfect as far as clear skies and temps in the upper-60s at first pitch, but we do still have some wind in the picture, 10-15 mph out of the SW (out to center, right-center) and that could factor into the game's outcome.
Houston is 5-10 against lefthanders this year, and while the Astros are hot with five wins in their last six games, I'm still going to fade them for my free pick, opting once again for a run-line play on LA.
My pick: Angels -1.5 (+120)
Season: 43-41 (+1.1)
Astros vs. Angels Game 1
By: Willie Bee
A couple of teams playing well right now collide on the West Coast to begin the hardball schedule this week and, believe it or not, one of them is the Houston Astros who have spent the vast majority of the past four seasons at the very bottom of the baseball barrel.
The other squad is the Los Angeles Angels who have endured a lot of disappointment of their own over the same time period, and they're pronounced favorites on the baseball betting board as better than $2.00 chalk for Monday's series opener (10:05 PM ET). Garrett Richards gets the ball from manager Mike Scioscia in Game 1 against Houston's Dallas Keuchel, with SBR's live MLB odds listing 7.5 for the scoreboard hurdle.
The Angels took three of four from the Astros in Houston about seven weeks ago, and that gave LA a slight 15-14 lead over the history of the series. All but six of those 29 games have been played since the beginning of the 2013 campaign when Houston was shifted from the NL Central to the AL West.
The Astros took 10 of the 19 matchups last year, including seven of the 10 played at the Big A. 'Over' bettors were rewards in six of the contests out in Anaheim.
'Stros Hit Road In Search Of 3rd-Straight
Houston (16-28, -4.9 units, 21-21-2 O/U/P) starts this 10-game trek looking to stop a nearly 4-year-old streak. The Astros are coming off series wins at home over the Rangers and White Sox, and haven't won three consecutive sets since June 2010 when the slapped the Nationals, Cubs and Rockies in succession, two of those series 3-1 triumphs.
There is a touch of irony that Houston's best pitcher is named Dallas. Keuchel is coming off the one and only complete game shutout in his short career, blanking the Rangers last Tuesday on seven hits, also striking out seven with nary a walk.
The Astros are a perfect 3-0 in Keuchel's starts away from home, and he aims to avenge a loss to the Halos earlier this season in Houston where he surrendered four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks in five frames. This is his fourth career start vs. the Angels, and third in Anaheim where he owns a 4.91 ERA with the Astros splitting two assignments.
Halos Take 3 Of 4
From Rays To Start Homestand
Don't look now, but Los Angeles (24-19, +2.4 units, 23-18-2 O/U/P) is streaking into the American League picture, only to be outdone in the AL West by the Oakland Athletics who have won nine of 10 to LA's 8-2 mark in that span. The Angels opened a 10-game homestand this past weekend by taking three of four from the Rays, and currently own the 3rd-best record in the Junior Circuit.
More good news for the Halos is they're about to see a few key players return from the DL, possibly starting with 3B David Freese at some point in this series with the Astros.
Richards has but one hiccup on his 2014 ledger, and the Angels are riding a 3-game win streak with the righthander on the hill to bring them to 6-2 in his starts. The 54 strikeouts in 52 innings might be his glamour stat so far this season, but even better is only one home run served up, that clout coming four starts ago in the finale of a 3-game set against the Yankees in the Bronx.
The former OU star beat the Astros in Houston for his first win of 2014, allowing just one run in five innings and managing to work around five free passes. Houston had knocked him around pretty good in another start and three relief appearances before that, and Richards has struggled a bit in two starts at home this year (13 IP, 8 ER, 17 H).
Rain will not interfere with this series, but bettors need to keep an eye on wind reports the next few days. First pitch on Monday should find the thermometer in the upper-60s with an 8-12 mph SW breeze (out to left-center).
That wind could help hitters in both lineups, and Houston's bats have really been showing signs of finally getting things together. Still, I'm not ready to call what the Astros have done recently a complete turnaround and anoint the team ready to compete on a consistent basis. That's why the Halos will be my free pick tonight, knocking off some of that juice with a small play on the run line.
My MLB Pick: Angels -1.5 (+100)
Season: 43-40 (+2.1)