Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox Preview and Pick – Betting Line

Los Angeles Angels (12-14) Joe Saunders, at Boston Red Sox (11-14)
Clay Bucholz, Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., 7:10 PM EST, Monday, May
3rd, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Angels +145/Red Sox -155
Total: 9.5

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Two proud Major League Baseball franchises that have grown accustomed
to looking down from the top of the standings, instead of struggling
to stay with the chase pack, get together for the first time in 2010
when the Los Angeles Angels invade Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox on ESPNs Monday Night Baseball.

The suits at ESPN will be happy that theres some drama involved in
tonights national telecast, but its not for the reasons they
expected. Instead of a game featuring two of the top squads in
American League, its going to be a show to watch which team can stop
their rocket slide toward mediocrity, with both teams coming into the
series opener fresh off of getting swept the series prior.

For the Angels, they still have seven games remaining on their 10-
game road trip and the four-game series they start in Boston tonight
has become increasingly crucial after the first three games of the
trip in Detroit this weekend all ended with Angel losses.

The Angels starting pitchers were knocked around by the Tigers in the
sweep (outscored 18-to-9), including their ace Jered Weaver in
yesterdays 6-1 loss to Justin Verlander in the series finale. To
make matters worse, tonight theyll hand the ball struggling lefty
Joe Saunders, who is just 1-4 this season and has yet to flash the
skills that made him the dominant southpaw he was in seasons past.

Boston will be happy to return to Fenway after dropping yesterdays
3-2 extra inning affair to Baltimore, a loss that allowed the Orioles
to sweep the Red Sox. Yes, thats right. The last-place Orioles swept
the Red Sox, winning the finale against their ace Josh Beckett no
less, so all is not right in Boston these days.

The Red Sox already find themselves seven games behind the Tampa Bay
Rays in the AL East standings, thanks to the Orioles, and the trot
their own struggling starter out to the bump tonight when right-
hander Clay Bucholz tries to make Red Sox Nation forget their dubious
start in the month of May.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Bucholz and the Red Sox as -160 favorites on the overnight line, and that number has dropped only
slightly to -155 at a few offshore sportsbooks after the early steam
at the window. That makes the Angels with Saunders on the mound an
enticing +145 to +148 at the sportsbooks that offer dimelines and
reduced juice.

The over/under total opened at 9 and has gone up to 9.5 across the board at every offshore book on the Web that lists a number already.

Although neither pitcher has had much success so far this season,
historically Saunders has done a great job against the Red Sox.

In eight starts against the Red Sox Saunders is 4-1 with respectable
numbers across the board (3.24 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, .350 OBP, .788 OPS).
More impressive though is the fact that the lefty is a perfect 3-0 in
his career at Fenway, with his numbers getting better in every
category previously mentioned (2.84, 1.46, .339,.707).

Saunders lone loss to Boston was last year, a 5-4 loss where he
allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings. He didnt factor
into the decision in his second start against them last year, but his
line was just as ugly (5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R), so his success versus the
Red Sox was from his sensational rookie season.

Its pretty much a straight lefty-righty matchup versus Saunders with
his splits too, as the Red Sox righties in their lineup (Pedroia .333
BA, Beltre .318 BA, Youkilis .864 OPS, Martinez .333 BA) have had
plenty of success while their lefties (Ortiz .150 SLG, Veritek .222
BA, Drew .200) have struggled.

Bucholz has limited exposure to the Angels in the past, starting only
three games against them over his few seasons and the results have
been forgettable too (1-2, 6.75 ERA, 1.765 WHIP, .385 OBP, .877 OPS).
However, his lone start against them last year was a quality one (5
IP, 6 H, 2 R), so its hard to get a firm read out of such a small

The Red Sox are just 5-8 at Fenway this season, and they split their
series at home against the Angels 2-2 last year, so having the hammer
doesnt seem to matter in this head-to-head matchup. Overall the
Angels went 8-4 against Boston in 2009.

The over/under bet went 2-2 at Fenway last year, so finding a betting
trend to follow for tonights opener will be hard to come by.

Badgers Pick: If I was forced to pick a side Id favor Saunders and
LA since I think theres better value there. Im just not sure the
Angels can win his starts right now, so my money is on the over
because I see a typical Fenway barnburner tonight. Take the over of 9.5.