Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
A couple of weeks ago, it looked as if the Oakland Athletics were going to leave the rest of the AL West in their dust. But the Texas Rangers are now making tracks of their own, mostly at the expense of the Los Angeles Angels, and could pull even with the A's at the top of the division if they can complete their second straight series sweep of the Halos on Wednesday.
The Rangers will have Alexi Ogando on the Anaheim mound as small road chalk in the finale. Tommy Hanson is scheduled for the Angels with the MLB odds listing an 8 run total that is priced at least 20¢ to the UNDER.
Texas moved into position for the broom job with an 8-3 decision on Tuesday, breaking open a 3-3 affair by pushing five runs across the plate in the final two innings. The victory was the sixth straight over the Halos for the Rangers who own a 9-2 advantage in the series this year.
Ogando missed the Angels when they came through Texas last week, and is looking for his first win since mid-May before two separate stints on the DL. The lanky Dominican is still building up arm strength since returning from a shoulder injury, and hasn't made it through five innings in either of his last two assignments. Five walks in Oakland on Friday helped to cut his outing short, but Texas' bats prevailed in the end.
The Angels have not done much against Ogando over the years, but did beat the Rangers when he pitched at the Big A in April (7 IP, 2 ER). Overall, he's 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA vs. the Halos.
Hanson also didn't appear in last week's series, and is seeing the Rangers for just the second time in his career. His debut for the Angels came in Texas on April 6, and Hanson picked up the dubya with six innings and three runs allowed (solo homers by Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler). June 15 was the big righty's last win, but the Angels did manage to cash in two of his four starts since despite his 8.82 ERA in those contests.
Tim Timmons got off to an incredible OVER run (10-2-1) working the plate this year, but that clip has been tempered by a 5-4 lean to the UNDER his last nine assignments behind the mask. One of the two in the early going to fall short of the total came with Hanson on the hill in Anaheim.
Ogando's current form scares me off Texas in Game 3. I'll get behind the two lineups with a free pick on the OVER in the finale.
My pick: Rangers-Angels Over 8 (+105)
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
With Nelson Cruz gone from the lineup and not patrolling right field as usual, the Texas Rangers needed a few innings to adjust in their series opener at the Los Angeles Angels. Thanks to their little lefty on the mound, Martín Perez, they had plenty of time.
A fifth straight win over the Angels in their hip pocket, Texas can now claim its fourth consecutive series triumph vs. the Halos on Tuesday when the Rangers send Yu Darvish to the mound. Most sportsbooks are firmly behind Texas with a -150 moneyline for the second game of the series that finds Garrett Richards on the hill for LA.
Scoreboard wagering started with a 7.5 run total on the overnight lines, but that tally has dropped to 7 at many sports books listed on SBR's live MLB odds.
Texas spotted the Angels an early 1-0 lead on Monday following the announcement that Cruz had been suspended for 50 games from the Biogenesis investigation. That's exactly the number of games left of the Rangers' regular season slate, and the club said they would be more than happy to bring their slugger back for the postseason. The offense finally got to Angels starter Jerome Williams in the fifth and sixth frames, while Perez and the bullpen helped those runs stand up in a 5-2 win.
The victory helped the Rangers pare a half-game off Oakland's lead in the American League West, now two games over Texas, while the Angels dropped 13 back in fourth place.
Run support has been a big problem for the Rangers when Darvish is on the mound. The righty has lowered his ERA from 2.77 to 2.66 over his last nine starts, yet Texas is 3-6 in that span. Two of the loses can be pinned on Darvish, but could easily be 13-5 entering Tuesday's game, and Texas certainly should be better than 12-9 in his assignments.
Yu Darvish has received plenty of offense in his two goes vs. the Angels this season, 7-3 and 11-3 Ranger victories; he's 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in four career starts at Angel Stadium.
Richards started 2013 in the LA 'pen, moved to the rotation, then back to relief and now is making his third straight start since being slotted back in the rotation. He tossed five shutout frames in Oakland on July 27, a 3-1 Halos loss, and beat the Blue Jays 8-2 with seven good innings last Thursday in Anaheim. The former Sooner has made three starts and four relief appearances vs. Texas, totaling just 14 innings with a 5.79 ERA.
Laz Diaz should work the dish for the umpire crew in Game 2, and the Miami native sports a slight lean to the OVER on the season (12-9-1 O/U/P). Home 'dogs have split the action 2-2 with Diaz behind the plate.
Let's come right back with another play on the Rangers; Texas -150 for my free pick.My pick: Rangers -150 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
It's déjà vu all over again if you've been following my previews and free MLB picks here at SBR. Among the series we covered to begin Week 18 on this year's baseball betting slate was a clash in Texas between Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, and the 19th week starts with the same two AL West rivals battling each other on the West Coast.
We also get a quick rematch on the mound for the series opener Monday in Anaheim as Texas sends Martín Perez out to face LA's Jerome Williams, those two hurlers hooking up in a duel in the finale of last week's set in the Lone Star State. The Rangers won that collision and are installed as very slight road favorites for the replay according to SBR's live MLB odds.
The total for Game 1 started at 9 before being whittled to 8.5 runs following overnight wagers. Two of the three last week stayed UNDER the total, a rarity for these teams in Texas as we discussed during that series. All three of the games at the Big A in April scooted through the scoreboard barrier, leaving the OVER 6-2 on the Angels' diamond going back to July 2012.
Rangers Walk-Off Sweep One For Record Books
I had the opportunity to watch two of three when the teams met this past week, and they were two of the most exciting games I've seen in a while. Maybe I was just in a better mood than my usual cranky self, but the 14-11 extra inning affair in Game 2 was incredibly entertaining, and that comes from a guy who generally enjoys pitching and defense over offense.
Texas, for anyone who missed it, not only swept the series but won all three games on walk-off home runs. MLB still had a team in Montreal the last time that happened when the D-Bbacks beat the Expos three straight with walk-off blasts in May 1999. Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams popped those homers, according to retrosheet.org, in case you were wondering.
That broom job a few days ago left the Rangers up 7-2 in this year's matchups vs. the Halos, and five of those wins have been added to ledgers for their relievers. Texas' bullpen is tied for second in the majors with 23 wins, against 12 losses and only six blown save opportunities.
Can Perez & Williams Repeat Last Week's Performances?
My bias for Perez was mentioned when he went up against Baltimore in July, and that contest saw him go into a bit of a rut for four starts, the worst of which came in Cleveland on July 26 (3 IP, 6 ER). He definitely pulled out of that slide this past Wednesday when he held the Halos to four hits and a run -- a Josh Hamilton homer -- while pitching into the eighth.
Williams went an out longer than Perez that evening while surrendering just a run -- solo homer by Nelson Cruz -- in his best assignment since late-June. Before the July 31 start in Texas, Williams had allowed 25 earned runs in 18 frames, the Angels somehow managing to win one of those five starts.
Perez is making his first appearance at Angels Stadium, and owns a 6.00 road ERA this season compared to 1.75 at home. Williams' splits are skewed the other way, 5.06 at the Big A and 4.15 on the road.
Weather Should Be Fine For All Three Games
Current forecasts call for the entire series to be played under near perfect weather conditions in Anaheim. Monday's tilt should start under clear skies with the thermometer around 72º and a very light breeze from the west (out to right), and the next two days look very much the same. If anything worth mentioning changes for Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll let you know.
The Angels would love for some vengeful déjà vu of their own in the form of a sweep this week. They rebounded by winning three of four from the Blue Jays over the weekend, and enter a tough stretch on the slate with trips to Cleveland and the Bronx following this set. Texas also comes into this series having won three of four since brooming the Angels last week, including cutting into Oakland's NL West lead by taking two of three from the A's to start this road trip that concludes in Houston beginning on Friday.
In the end, I've got more faith in Perez than Williams, and will offer up my first free pick for this series on the Rangers.
My pick: Rangers -106 at Bet365