Verlander Fails to Stop His Anaheim Jinx and Astros’ Skid

Angels pitcher Mike Trout

Willie Bee

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1:37 PM GMT

Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017 1:37 PM GMT

It’s coming down to the wire in the AL Wild Card race, and the Angels are in need of a win as short home ‘dogs on the MLB odds in Tuesday’s series opener against the sliding Astros.

One team looks to reduce its magic number for a division title, the other sets its sights on deadlocking the second American League Wild Card spot. That’s the background for tonight’s series opener in Anaheim where the Los Angeles Angels host the Houston Astros.

Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels

It’s the Astros who are looking to shrink their magic number for the AL West crown, currently at seven. Houston is also in the midst of a 4-game skid but favored to end that with BetOnline sending the ‘Stros out -129 with Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.74) on the hill. The Angels begin the set just a game behind Minnesota in the wild card standings, and will have Garrett Richards (0-0, 1.13) deliver the first pitch at 10:07 PM (ET) with 8 for the total.

5 Innings All We Should Expect From Richards
Verlander’s Houston debut was a good one, the veteran picking up the dubya as -145 chalk on the MLB odds with six innings of 1-run baseball at Seattle. It marked Verlander’s sixth win in his last eight assignments and 10th consecutive start with at least six K’s. He faced the Angels here in May while as a Tiger and took the loss (6 IP, 4 ER). Verlander has held Mike Trout to just two hits in 16 career at bats, but both went for home runs.

A biceps injury kept Richards on the shelf for five months, and he was limited by a short pitch count last week at Oakland when he was yanked in the fourth having surrendered a run on four hits. That count, which was in the low-50s then, probably won’t be increased to more than 70 this time. This is his first look at the Astros since 2015 when he went 1-2 against them, the lone victory coming in Anaheim (6.2 IP, 1 ER).

Rivalry Trends, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Two wins this week guarantee Houston its third consecutive season series over the Angels, and fourth in five seasons since moving to the AL in 2013. The Astros took 2-of-3 in their both earlier trips to Anaheim this season, the Halos owning a 4-3 advantage in the seven played at Minute Maid. Totals have run 3-2-1 O/U/P in 2017 Big A action, 9-14-2 on this diamond since the start of the 2015 campaign.

Sunny, temps a bit humid in the upper-70s and a light westerly breeze (out to right) is the forecast 24 hours in advance of the game. Verlander is 0-6 in as many tries here since 2010, so even though Richards is going to turn it over to his ‘pen early, I’m riding the Angels with my free baseball pick.

My Free MLB Pick: Angels +120 at Heritage

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Season: 73-75-4 (+1.85, 1 game pending)

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