The Orioles finish a long West Coast trip with four in Anaheim against the Angels, and SBR has previews and free MLB picks for the entire series.
Sunday's Game Four
By: Willie Bee
Can the Baltimore Orioles cut deeper into Boston's lead in the AL East? Will the Los Angeles Angels ever get their act together and live up to the expectations so many had for this club when the season opened?
Those questions and maybe more might be answered Sunday afternoon when the O's and Halos wrap up their 4-game series at the Big A. The starting pitching matchup would seem to favor Baltimore, but LA has drawn the chalk on the MLB odds board with the Angels laying -120 on the MLB odds boards for the noon-thirty local start.
Jason Hammel is slated to take the hill for the Orioles opposite Jerome Williams, and baseball betting outlets are in agreement on an 8.5 run total that favors the OVER.
The Orioles blew a 4-0 lead on Saturday but still picked up a 5-4 dubya in extra innings. The victory ensured Baltimore of a winning road trip that started in Oakland 11 days ago, and pushed Buck Showalter's squad to within 2.5 games of the Red Sox. Saturday's setback leaves Mike Scioscia's troops scrambling to earn a split in this series, and dropped them eight games behind Texas in the AL West.
Baltimore has won Hammel's last four starts and all four of his outings away from home this year. The righthander has a chance to go 3-0 on this road trip if he can earn the victory Sunday. All three of his previous career starts vs. the Angels ended in defeat, however, including both last season, his first with the Orioles.
Williams is getting his first start of 2013 following eight relief assignments. He should be stretched out enough to go 7+ innings after his last call from the 'pen when he worked six innings at Oakland on April 29. Williams has faced the Orioles twice in an Angels uniform, and beaten them both times.
It isn't supposed to be a very pretty day in Anaheim with a 20% chance of rain and cloudy skies keeping the thermometer in the 60s. The chance of rain increases as the game progresses. Larry Vanover completes the umpire rotation for this 4-game set, and is a level 3-3 on the totals so far in '13. He called Hammel's April 13 start at Yankee Stadium, a contest that failed to reach the 9-run mark.
I'm not sold on either starter and will make my play on the OVER. We've also got a preview and free pick for the series finale between the Red Sox and Rangers that you'll want to check out.
My pick: Orioles-Angels Over 8.5 (-110) at 5Dimes
Saturday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Pitching has been a big problem for the Los Angeles Angels this season, and it certainly hasn't helped matters to have the ace of the rotation (Jered Weaver) and closer they signed in the offseason (Ryan Madson) on the DL.
But pitching was no problem on Friday when the Halos evened their 4-game series against the Baltimore Orioles behind a 3-hit shutout spun by Jason Vargas. The Angels will try and gain an advantage in the set Saturday afternoon when they send Tommy Hanson to the hill against Freddy Garcia, who is making his season debut for the O's.
The game is set for a one o'clock local start and LA is carrying chalk in the -140s into the affair. A 9 run total is priced at least 20¢ on the low side at shops monitored by SBR's live MLB odds.
Vargas mastered the Orioles to pick up his first win with the Angels, and got all of the offense he needed from Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo who each went deep on Friday. The Angels entered the contest 14th in the AL with a 4.84 ERA before Vargas tossed the fourth shutout of his career.
Garcia has spent the past month or so getting into game shape down in the minors after inking a free agent deal with Baltimore in late March. Five starts for Norfolk netted four wins and an impressive 21:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the 14-year veteran. He has a lot of history against the Halos dating back to his days with the Mariners, and most of it has been good.
Hanson has just two starts in his career against the Orioles, and they also turned out to be wins for his former club in Atlanta. He was in line for the dubya his last time out in Oakland before his bullpen blew the lead, and will be looking for his fourth quality start in five trips to the mound today.
Wally Bell will call balls and strikes for the ninth time this year, five of the previous eight skipping above the total though his last four plate assignments on this diamond stayed UNDER. The skies are expected to be mostly sunny with the thermometer climbing into the upper-70s during the game and a 10 mph southerly breeze (out to LF).
Five to six innings is all we can expect from today's starters, meaning it's up to the bullpens to decide things. I've got more faith in the Baltimore relievers today and will make a play on the underdog O's. While you're here looking for free picks, you might as well check out the Red Sox and Rangers series that SBR is following this weekend.
My pick: Orioles +132 at Bwin
Friday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Advantage Visitors, after the Baltimore Orioles grabbed the dubya in their series opener at the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles can now guarantee themselves a winning West Coast road trip if they make it two in a row on Friday.
MLB odds for Game 2 suggest the Angels will even up the set behind Jason Vargas. The Halos are -125 favorites at The Greek, while O's backers are getting +115 with Miguel Gonzalez on the hill. Friday's total in Anaheim is 8.5 runs, and the OVER is going to cost an extra 10¢ or so.
Chris Tillman ruled the day on Thursday with eight shutout innings to pace Baltimore to the 5-1 victory. The Angels lineup, which was expected to be among the best in baseball, was constantly working behind in the count, and their 4.18 runs per game rank 10th in the American League.
Gonzalez has not been sharp his last three trips to the hill, though the Orioles did manage to win two of the three contests. He let a 5-0 lead slip away last week in Oakland, a game the A's ultimately pulled off 9-8 in extra innings. This will be the second time Gonzalez has faced the Angels in his young career, and the other start was a good one on this mound last July (7 IP, 1 ER, 6 K).
Vargas is coming off his best outing of the campaign, but it still went into the loss column for the Angels. That has been typical of his results when facing the Orioles over his career, as the Mariners won just two of his last six starts vs. Baltimore despite Vargas owning a 1.80 ERA over the course of 40 innings.
While much of the country shivers from a late winter storm, another warm afternoon is in the works for Anaheim. It should be darn-near perfect baseball weather when the game starts under clear skies and temps in the upper-70s. A 10 mph breeze from the west (out to left) concludes the forecast.
Manny Gonzalez, now working just his second full MLB season, is expected to call the balls and strikes for Game 2. The Venezuelan has one of the more consistent strike zones I've seen, and should favor the pitchers if they're anywhere close to the plate.
History would point to a low-scoring game given the prior performances of the two hurlers against their opponents, but I'm more concerned with the more recent performances of by Baltimore's starting pitcher. My play in Game 2 will be on Vargas and the Angels.
My pick: Angels -125
Thursday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
The good news for Mike Scioscia and the Los Angeles Angels is they managed to kick May off on a winning note. The bad news is this expensive collection of talent that was picked by many to win the AL flag once again suffered through a horrible month of April, and if it wasn't for the pitiful Houston Astros, the Angels would be bringing up the rear of the AL West.
Four games against the Baltimore Orioles should provide a good test for the Angels to see if they're ready to come out of another early season funk. What the Halos are to underachieving, the Orioles are to the definition of overachieving with a payroll $40 million less than Angels yet with a current winning percentage more than 200 points above the Anaheim hard-ballers.
The first of four games we will follow here at SBR is set to begin a little past 10 PM (ET) on Thursday, and features a battle of righthanders as Chris Tillman takes his turn in the Baltimore rotation against LA's Joe Blanton. The contest opened as a pick 'em at Bookmaker before shifting in the favor of the Angels. We'll call it -115 for a morning consensus on the MLB odds board along with a 9 run total that leans OVER.
A year after getting off to an 8-15 start in April, the Angels went 9-17 during the first month of 2013 before picking up a rather shaky 10th win in Oakland on Wednesday to open May. That leaves the club seven games behind Texas in the AL West, the A's and Mariners both closer to the top of the division.
Baltimore enters this series, the last of a long 11-game road trip, at 16-12 which puts the O's third in the AL East and 3.5 back of the Red Sox.
Trips Through Seattle & Oakland Produce Different Results
The Angels and Orioles have both been in Oakland and Seattle over the last week, and the two locales treated them very differently. The Halos needed a 5-4 win at the A's just to come home with a 2-5 record on their trek while Baltimore kept its head above water with a 4-3 mark through the same stadiums.
Tillman, born in Anaheim and drafted out of nearby Fountain Valley High School that also produced Angels lefty CJ Wilson, is making just his second career start vs. the Angels. The first was back in Aug. 2009 in Baltimore where he worked into the seventh while allowing four runs (3 earned) in a 16-6 Baltimore romp. That was Tillman's first MLB win, and it's been a disappointment that he's only had 16 since then.
Blanton's first five starts with the Angels have each ended in defeat for his new club. The most recent was last Saturday in Seattle, and while it technically met the requirements to be a quality start, there wasn't anything real pretty about it. The opposition is batting .379 against the beefy hurler, .415 at Angel Stadium, and Blanton has served up seven homers in less than 27 innings, a stat that doesn't bode well against an Orioles lineup that is eighth in the majors with 33 long balls.
Be sure to check the my series closing pick between the Braves and Nationals.
Angels Look To Continue Recent Dominance In Series
Baltimore is 340-288 all-time vs. the Los Angeles-California-Anaheim Angels, but it's the Halos who own a 13-5 advantage the past two seasons after being whitewashed six-zip by the O's in 2010. The Angels have won eight of the last 10 on their home turf, four of the last five failing to reach the scoreboard tally.
It is supposed to be warm Thursday and Friday in Anaheim before the weatherman says it cools off for the two afternoon affairs on Saturday and Sunday. Bettors will want to keep a close eye on that as the series progresses.
Bettors are also going to probably want to play against my free MLB picks that continue to produce a lot of red ink. For no particular reason at all, I'm backing the home team as small favorites in the series opener.
My pick: Angels -115