Just when it looked like we might have a pitching matchup we could depend on in the series between the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, an injury gets in the way.
Yu Darvish, originally expected to draw the start Thursday for Texas, will instead take a couple of weeks off due to a back strain. In his place, Ross Wolf takes the mound in the series finale against Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez. After adjusting the MLB odds for the pitching change, the O's are -135 chalk with a 9.5 run total.
Gonzalez and the Orioles are aiming at a split in the set after dropping the first two games before winning the third on Wednesday. Manny Machado and Nolan Reimold fueled the Baltimore offense in Game 3 while Wei-Yin Chen was brilliant on the hill in his first start off the DL following an oblique injury.
Wolf is making his second start of the campaign, and first since he was initially called up to the big league club in May. The 30-year-old righthander made 11 relief appearances after that May assignment, one of them against the Orioles in Monday's series opener when he worked just a third of an inning. An 18th-round pick by the Marlins in 2002, Wolf was stretched out to 82 pitches in a relief outing against the Blue Jays a little more than a month ago, and we probably shouldn't expect more than 75 pitches tonight.
Gonzalez missed a little more than two weeks in May due to a nasty blister on his right thumb, and has slowly been whittling his ERA down since his return. Baltimore won six of his nine starts in that span (3.05 ERA), and could won two more if not for the bullpen blowing up, and the O's are a perfect 7-0 in his appearances at Camden Yards.
His lone career assignment vs. the Rangers came in Texas last August, and the Rangers reached him for four runs over five frames.
Let's hop over and have a peek at today's Baseball Betting Lines and Odds Report~
Adrian Johnson should complete one turn through the umpire crew by working the plate on Thursday. TheTexas native brings an 8-10 O/U mark into the contest and the totals have split his last four times to call balls and strikes at Camden Yards.
A 90% chance of rain exists in Baltimore during the day before it tapers off to a 60% likelihood of a passing t-storm this evening. Bettors will want to keep an eye on the forecast and check it once more before going to the window.
With a big weekend series in Detroit just ahead, might Texas manager Ron Washington be inclined to leave Wolf on the mound a few batters too long in an attempt to keep his 'pen fresh? Perhaps, and that might just be enough for the OVER to cash for my free picks tonight.
By: Willie Bee
Adrian Beltre didn't have his best game in the field Tuesday night, but the 4-time Gold Glove winner more than made up for that with his bat as the Texas Rangers rolled to an 8-4 win at the Baltimore Orioles.
Texas can now claim its sixth series victim in the last seven sets with a victory on Wednesday when Ron Washington sends Josh Lindblom to the Baltimore bump. Buck Showalter will turn to Wei-Yin Chen in his first start off the DL. Texas' late announcement on who would pitch the third of this 4-game series kept the MLB odds from an overnight release, and the morning openers pegged the O's in the general vicinity of -140 with a 9.5 run total (U-115).
Beltre reached base all five times he came to the plate Tuesday, delivering a pair of bombs and driving in five of Texas' runs to back Martin Perez and the bullpen. The Rangers third sacker also committed an error in the fifth that led to a couple of unearned runs for the Orioles, but Perez managed to limit the potential damage in that frame to earn his third consecutive winning decision.
Lindblom has shifted from the Texas 'pen to the rotation since his initial call-up in May, and Wednesday will be his fifth starting assignment. The former Boilermaker last pitched Saturday against the Astros, working 1.2 scoreless and hitless frames in relief. This will be Lindblom's first career appearance vs. the Orioles, as well as his first time on a foreign mound this season with each of his previous seven outings coming at home.
Chen has been on the disabled list since mid-May due to an oblique injury, and the lefthander will be looking for the same results as he enjoyed in his only other matchup versus the Rangers. He worked into the eighth at Oriole Park in May 2012, just his sixth big league start, and held Texas to six hits and one earned run, but the Rangers do sport an 18-11 record vs. southpaws this year.
The bulk of Chen's work earlier this season came on the road, with Baltimore fans only getting their third look at him in the Hump Day tilt. The O's won Chen's previous two starts at home, and were 10-8 in his assignments at Camden in 2012, including a playoff dubya against the Yanks.
Bill Welke should have the plate on Wednesday and brings a flat 9-9-1 O/U/P into the clash, coincidentally the same record in the totals column as his brother Tim. A 50% chance of t-storms interrupting this game exists, and if nothing else it's going to be a warm, sticky evening for the fans.
We've seen offense prevail in the first two games of the series, and while Chen and the Orioles might be the right play as home favorites, I'm going to back the bats with a free sports pick on the OVER despite the potential for rain.
By: Willie Bee
This time, Scott Feldman didn't have nearly as good of a time pitching against his old club. The Texas Rangers grabbed the series opener in Baltimore as a result, leaving the Orioles to the task of bouncing back on Tuesday to even the set.
The second tilt of this 4-game get-together features a couple of young southpaws on the hill, and some uncertainty by the sports books as to who would be pitching delayed the MLB betting odds from an overnight release. Martin Perez is poised to make his fifth start of 2013 for the Rangers against Baltimore's Zach Britton, and the odds are siding with the O's in the -120s plus a 9 run total that leans OVER.
Not sure if you've had the chance to see Perez pitch, but with Texas games easily available for me here in the Lone Star State, I've been impressed the three times I've watched him. The one game I didn't see -- June 22 at St. Louis -- might have been his best performance since it came against a loaded Cardinals lineup on the road, but he was also pretty damn good against another strong lineup in the Reds a couple of outings ago.
The little port-sider is raw, like most 22-year-old pitcher in the bigs, yet seems pretty confident as he gets ready to face the O's for the first time in his young career. His left-right splits are very weird, and worth checking out even if it is a small sample.
Britton should've earned his third win in five starts when we last saw him on the mound in the finale of Baltimore's series at the White Sox on the Fourth of July. I expected a higher scoring affair only to see the UNDER come in that night, and part of the reason was Britton's performance (7 IP, 2 ER). The correct pick turned out to be the UNDER in Chicago's 3-2 walk-off victory.
Nearly eight innings of shutout baseball was the result the only time Britton faced the Rangers, his second career MLB start in 2010. The only Texas batters who might face him Tuesday are 1-for-13, 1-for-18 if you include Lance Berkman and Jeff Baker who are on the DL.
Scattered storms are once again in the Baltimore forecast, to the tune of a 40% chance during the game. The upper-80s are predicted for the thermometer with an 8-10 mph southerly breeze (out to center). Fieldin Culbreth is next up in the umpire rotation, and Tuesday will mark his 20th plate assignment of 2013. The previous 19 have finished 8-9-2 O/U/P on the scoreboard side, home favorites a solid 12-4.
The Rangers in the underdog role treated us well on Monday, and I'm going to get behind them once again with my free sports pick in Game 2.
MLB pick: Take the Rangers +111 at Bet365
Monday Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Can the Texas Rangers gain a measure of revenge after being unceremoniously dumped from the 2012 playoffs by the Orioles? Will Baltimore build off an exciting last at-bat win Sunday over the Yankees to conclude last week's road trip on a high note?
Those are two questions that will be answered this week when the Rangers and Orioles meet at Camden Yards for a 4-game series. The set begins a tough trek for Texas leading into the all-star break, with a stop in Detroit to follow, and SBR will trail the Rangers all week with previews and free picks for all seven of their games.
Monday's series opener pits a pair of former teammates on the mound as Derek Holland is up for the Rangers against new Orioles hurler Scott Feldman, acquired from the Cubs last week. Feldman spent 2005-12 with Texas and will be facing his former club for the second time this season after also battling them during his short stay with the Cubs.
The MLB odds like Feldman's chances with Baltimore pegged as small chalk at home. We'll call it -110 for a morning moneyline consensus, and the 8.5 run total is priced to the OVER after opening at 9 runs.
The last time the two clubs squared off was in the AL Wild Card contest last October, a 5-1 triumph for the Orioles down in the Lone Star State. Texas was a huge favorite in that matchup after beating the O's in 10 of the previous 12 regular season meetings. The Rangers have taken six of the last eight played in Charm City, and all four contests at Oriole Park last year finished above the total.
Rangers Lurking In Oakland's Shadows
Texas begins this crucial journey just a half-game behind the Athletics in the AL West race following a 5-4 homestand against the Reds, Mariners and Astros. Offense is down this season for the Rangers, as expected; Ron Washington's troops are plating just under 4.4 runs per game following an AL-best 4.99 scoring average in 2012.
While the bats have fallen off, the pitching staff has helped pick up the slack. Texas hurlers are tied with Oakland's for the lowest ERA in the AL (3.72), and among the league leaders in most strikeouts per nine innings (8.1) and fewest homers allowed (85). That long ball stat will be put to the test against an Orioles lineup that leads the majors in home runs (120).
Holland also matched up against a former Texas teammate the last time he pitched at Camden Yards, beating Tommy Hunter and the O's 7-3 in the second game of a doubleheader on this diamond last May. The southpaw has been solid away from home with a 2.95 ERA in nine road starts this year, Texas winning seven of those outings, and Holland owns a 3-1 record with a 3.55 ERA vs. the Orioles during his career.
Feldman Hopes For Repeat Of May Start Vs. Texas
Like the Rangers, Baltimore is also sitting in second place right now and tied with the Yankees 4.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox who lead the AL East. Baltimore appeared headed for its fourth consecutive setback on Sunday when they trailed the Yankees entering the ninth in New York, but broke through against Mariano Rivera to avert being swept in that series.
Feldman joined the Orioles last week and immediately was inserted into the rotation by Buck Showalter against the White Sox. The lanky righty didn't decision (6 IP, 2 ER), but it ended up in Baltimore's favor for the only victory in the Chicago series. Feldman also beat the Rangers on the other side of the Windy City back in May, tossing seven shutout innings vs. Texas at Wrigley Field in the Cubs' 9-2 rout.
There is a chance of a passing or scattered thunderstorm in Baltimore all week, so bettors will want to keep an eye on the weather forecasts each day. Warm (upper-80s) and muggy is the call for the start of tonight's clash, with a light westerly breeze (left to right).
Texas is the best road team in the AL (24-18) but Baltimore has performed well at home and against AL West teams this season. With a toss-up on the lines, I'm going to take the Rangers as small 'dogs for my free pick.
My pick: Rangers +100 at Bet 365