Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels Preview and Pick

Cleveland Indians (81-58) +135, o/u 9 at Los Angeles Angels (82-57), 10 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of

The cream of the Central Division meets the best in the West when the Cleveland Indians visit Los Angeles to take on the Angels in the opener of a big four-game series Thursday night.

Cleveland, winners of 11 of its last 12 games, leads the AL Central by seven games over the second-place Detroit Tigers.

Los Angeles, winners of seven of its last 10, leads the AL West by 7 games over the second-place Seattle Mariners.

These two teams have split six games so far this season, with the o/u going 1-5 in those games. And while the Angels took five of nine games from the Tribe last season, the o/u went 7-1-1 in those meetings.

Cleveland is a respectable 37-31 on the road this year, while L.A. owns the the best home record in the majors at 47-23.

The Indians will throw Paul Byrd (14-5, 4.19) in Thursday’s series opener against Kelvim Escobar (15-7, 2.99) for the Angels.

Byrd tossed a shutout vs. the White Sox five days ago, so in his last 20 1/3 IP, he’s allowed nine ER and 22 baserunners (hits + walks). On the season, Cleveland is 17-9 in Byrd’s starts, the o/u 12-13.

Byrd, who won 12 games pitching for the Halos in 2005, has started against his former team twice over the last two seasons. He’s allowed five ER and 19 hits in 13 IP, with the Indians splitting those two games.

Escobar has been great all year, except for the last two weeks, in which he’s had two bad starts. In his last 16 2/3 IP, Escobar has allowed 11 ER and 24 baserunners. This season, the Angels are 18-8 when Escobar starts, the o/u 9-17.

Escobar has made two starts vs. Cleveland over the last two seasons, giving up just two ER and 18 baserunners in 14 2/3 IP. Los Angeles split those two games.

Also, while Byrd has allowed 21 HRs in 163 IP this season, Escobar has only allowed eight long balls in 174 IP.

The Indians own a .344 team OBP this season, which ranks fifth-best in the majors, and are averaging 5.0 runs per game.

The Angles rank sixth in the league with their .343 team OBP, and are averaging 5.2 RPG.

The Cleveland bullpen has given up four ER and 21 baserunners in its last 16 2/3 IP.

The Los Angeles pen, however, has been generous as of late, allowing 13 ER and 29 baserunners in its last 17 1/3 innings of work.

The o/u is 64-70 in Indians games this season, 66-67 in L.A. games, and 36-32 at Angel Stadium, where games are averaging a healthy 10.2 runs per.

The Predictem Pick: We like the Indians in this spot as a juicy +134 underdog. It should be noted that spark plug Chone Figgins is doubtful tonight as well.

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