Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels Preview and Pick – Bucholtz vs. Lackey

Boston Red Sox (57-40) +135, 7 1/2 at Los Angeles Angels (57-38), 10 pm Eastern Friday
by Zman of

First place in the East meets first place in the West as the Boston Red Sox visit the Los Angeles Angels for the opener of a three-game weekend series Friday night in Anaheim.

Baseball bookmakers are listing Los Angeles and starting pitcher John Lackey (6-2, 2.46) as -145 home favorites for Friday’s game, with a total of 7 1/2, while Boston and Clay Buchholz (2-4, 5.70) are getting +135 as road underdogs.

As the “second half” of this MLB season begins, the Angels own the best record in the American League, and lead the second-place Oakland A’s by six games in the AL’s Western Division.

Meanwhile, Boston won five of its last six games going into the All-Star break, and leads the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by a half-game in the AL East.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, LA took two of three games in Boston back in April. And two of those games went over their totals, as the games averaged 11.7 total runs.

Last year, the Red Sox took six of 10 games from the Angels during the regular season, with the totals going 6-3-1, as the games averaged 10.6 total runs. Then the Sox swept LA out of the first round of the playoffs in three games, by scores of 4-0, 6-3, and 9-1.

Boston is only 21-29 on the road this year, 8-14 as underdogs, and 48-49 vs. the run line.

LA is 26-20 at home this season, 37-26 as favorites, and 49-46 vs. the run line.

Buchholz is making his second ML start since coming back from the DL. Last Friday vs. Baltimore, Buchholz gave up four ER and 10 baserunners (hits + walks) in five IP. Boston is 2-7 in Buchholz’ starts this year, the totals 6-2.

Buchholz has started one game in his career vs. the Angels, allowing three ER and 11 baserunners in six innings of an LA win last August.

Over his last three starts, including a brutal outing last Thursday in which he got knocked around for 15 hits in 5 2/3 innings vs. Texas, Lackey has allowed 11 ER and 30 BR in 20 1/3 IP. Los Angeles is 8-3 in Lackey’s starts this year, the totals 2-8.

Lackey started thrice against the Red Sox last year, including once in the playoffs, and gave up 13 ER on 32 BR in 15 2/3 IP. The Angels lost all three of those games, and two went over their totals.

Boston ranks 2nd in the majors so far this year in team batting at .282, 2nd in team OBP at .356, 2nd in team slugging at .451, and is averaging 5.1 runs per game.

Los Angeles ranks 19th in batting at .257, 26th in OBP at .318, 22nd in slugging at .388, and is averaging 4.3 RPG.

Over its last five games, the Boston bullpen has given up four ER and 23 BR in 14 2/3 IP.

Over its last five games, the LA pen has allowed 11 ER on 27 BR in 19 IP.

On the personnel front, Sox slugger David Ortiz is rehabbing a wrist injury in the minors.

The totals are 43-46 in Sox games this year, 35-55 in Angels games, and 17-26 in games played at Angel Stadium, which are averaging 8.85 total runs per this season.

Zman’s Pick: We like the Angels at -145 tonight.