Rangers vs. Angels Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Unable to break Saturday's game open early when they had plenty of opportunities against Rangers starter Matt Harrison, the Los Angeles Angels managed to push a couple of runs across against the Texas bullpen for a series-leveling 5-3 victory.
The win sets the stage for a rubber match Sunday afternoon (3:35 PM ET) in Anaheim where Yu Darvish and the Rangers are small chalk in the finale of the 3-game set. Tyler Skaggs is up next in the LA rotation, and SBR's live baseball odds has 7.5 across the board for the total, a little extra juice on the 'under.'
The Angels collected 10 hits and three walks off Harrison who burned through nearly 100 pitches before leaving in the fifth, but only managed to bring three of those runners home and left 13 potential runs on base in the contest. Howie Kendrick led a 14-hit Halos attack with two singles and two doubles, and his last two-bagger putting the icing on the cake in the 8th-inning to give LA its fourth victory in six Garrett Richards starts.
Hurlers Have Enjoyed
Past Success Against Opposing Lineups
If their previous assignments against the Angels and Rangers, respectively, are any indication, we could see a lot of zeroes put on the scoreboard by Darvish and Skaggs.
Coming off his only loss and worst outing of 2014, Darvish helped the Rangers to four wins in five April starts and Texas is 8-2 in his 10 appearances vs. the Angels the past two seasons. His ERA over those 62 innings is 3.77, but Darvish has been very tough on the Halos in their own park with a 2.10 ERA while limiting batters to a .195 average in five outings at the Big A.
Skaggs has a much smaller sample size against Texas, making just one start vs. the Rangers while he was with the Diamondbacks last year. It was a good one, however, six shutout innings with nine strikeouts to earn just his second big league dubya.
The Angels have emerged victorious in all five of his 2014 assignments, Skaggs working at least six innings each time and holding batters to a .213 average overall. The lefty has been more hittable in Anaheim where he has a 4.95 ERA compared to 1.20 on the road.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Veteran arbiter and crew chief Dana DeMuth will call the balls and strikes for this one, his previous four plate assignments splitting totals that have yet to be higher than 8.5 runs.
A few clouds are in the forecast, but no rain. It should be in the mid-70s at first pitch with a 10 mph breeze out of the southwest (out to center).
I'm going to ride the arms in this one and make my free MLB pick on the low side of the scoreboard hurdle.
My pick: Rangers-Angels Under 7.5 (-110)
Season: 31-32 (-1.9)
Rangers vs. Angels Game 2
By: Willie Bee
The losing continues for the Los Angeles Angels when Hector Santiago is on the mound. A 5-2 setback in the opener of their series against the Texas Rangers on Friday left the Halos 0-6 behind their southpaw and dropped them back to .500 on the season.
The good news is LA is 14-8 when any other starter goes to the mound. Mike Scioscia will turn to Garrett Richards to even the series on Saturday night (9:05 PM ET) while the Rangers rely on Matt Harrison to make it two wins in a row.
Texas will have to do it again as the underdog as the Angels are chalked around -140 at most outlets monitored by SBR's live MLB odds. The 8 run total leans 'over.'
Mound Duel Suggests
Runs Aplenty In Game 2
Texas manager Ron Washington was very pleased with Harrison's season debut last Sunday in Seattle, the lefty's first appearance on a big league mound in more than a year. But neither was happy with the ultimate outcome after Harrison left with a 5-2 lead only to see the bullpen serve up homers in a 6-5 loss.
The Angels have given Harrison some trouble since he moved into the Rangers rotation full-time in 2011. Texas is 2-4 in his six assignments while his ERA is 4.95 in 36.1 IP.
Except for the 16 walks in 32 innings, which he has managed to work around for the most part, Richards has pitched very well. The former Sooner also has 31 strikeouts on his ledger, including seven last Sunday in New York against the Yankees, and been charged with just 16 hits.
Saturday will be his seventh career start vs. the Rangers, along with four relief outings; Texas hitters have raked for a combined .302 batting average in 31.1 total innings.
Injury Notes, Umpire Info & A Free Pick
Both teams saw their injury list grow in Friday's contest. Angels 3B David Freese was hit on the right hand by a pitch and is expected to sit the next few games. Choo experienced some left ankle soreness and couldn't finish the match for the Rangers, but it probably isn't enough to keep him out of the lineup in Game 2.
Lance Barrett is next in the umpire rotation to work the plate, and all three of his previous assignments have run past the total. The Texas native has also been good to home favorites the past two season, eight of the last nine at -160 or less getting the dubya.
Each lineup missed opportunities to put more runs up on the scoreboard in Game 1, thwarting our play on the 'over.' Saturday's pitching matchup looks far more favorable for enough offense to send the final past the total, and that's where I'll be making my free MLB pick.
My pick: Rangers-Angels Over 8 (-110)
Season: 30-31 (-1.9)
Rangers vs. Angels Game 1
By: Willie Bee
If any team is going to catch the Oakland Athletics in the AL West, it figures to be either the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels. Each will have a chance to cut into Oakland's lead this weekend when the old rivals meet for the first time in 2014.
The 3-game series gets underway Friday evening (10:05 PM ET) when the Rangers look to end a 4-game slide while the Halos hope to add to a 3-game win streak. Colby Lewis and Hector Santiago are the mound combatants for Game 1, Santiago and the Angels drawing -130 to -140 chalk while a 9 run total is listed on SBR's live baseball odds.
You can't get much closer as far as head-to-head series go over the years. The Angels are 414-404 all-time vs. the Rangers, going back to their days as the rebirth of the Washington Senators. Texas has slowly but surely been eating into LA's advantage by taking four of the last five season series, including a lopsided 15-4 record in 2013.
The Rangers won six of the nine played in Anaheim a year ago and are 8-4 at the Big A going back to Sept. 2012. 'Over' bettors cashed seven of the contests in Anaheim last season.
Embarrassed By A's At
Home, Rangers Hit The Road
It's one thing to be swept in a series, and quite another to experience what Texas (15-13, +1.9 units, 15-12-1 O/U/P) just did in a short homestand. The Rangers entered their set against the Athletics tied for the division lead with the two teams sharing the best record in the American League, and Oakland drummed them by a combined 25-4 margin.
It was the second meeting this season between the Rangers and A's, and both have resulted in the home team being swept. Coupled with dropping two of three in Seattle last weekend, Texas now begins a 5-game road trip having lost five of its last six.
Lewis is coming off back-to-back outings that each went into the win column for Texas. He started the Rangers' only victory in their set against the Mariners, not figuring into the decision as Texas put up three late runs for the 6-3 win.
It has been 23 months since Lewis last faced the Angels, taking a tough loss in Anaheim after pitching into the seventh and allowing only two earned runs. The California native has pitched well on this mound in the past, posting a 2.02 ERA in four starts though the Rangers have won just one of the four starts despite his good showing.
Halos Beginning To Heat Up As Homestand Continues
Los Angeles (14-13, -1.1 units, 18-9 O/U) just completed a sweep on the Indians to begin this 9-game homestand, and the Angels have grabbed the cheese in six of their last nine trips to the diamond to move above .500 for the first time in 2014. Offense continues to be the strength of Mike Scioscia's club, a league-best 5.52 RPG clip reflected in 18 of the first 27 contests cashing for 'over' bettors.
It's not all about the bats, either, as LA ranks fourth in the AL with a 3.75 ERA, though relievers are 12th in that column (4.37). Scioscia has recently shuffled the back end of his 'pen where Joe Smith has assumed closing duties after Ernesto Frieri failed to perform in that capacity.
Santiago was on the hill in New York last Saturday against the Yankees, and the result was his fourth loss and the Angels' fifth in as many starts by the lefthander. He pitched well enough to win a couple of the games but got no support from his lineup, and has failed to get through the sixth inning in all but one of his assignments.
While toiling for the White Sox the past three seasons, Santiago faced the Rangers twice as a starter and twice more from the bullpen. Chicago won both starts, Santiago also picking up a save against Texas along the way.
Clear skies will dominate the next few days in Anaheim, though it will get progressively cooler from Friday's afternoon high that is forecast in the mid-90s. I'm hoping the bats also dominate tonight's hurlers by adding the 'over' to my list of free MLB picks.
My pick: Rangers-Angels Over 9 (+105)
Season: 29-29 (-0.9)