Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox Preview and Pick – Saunders vs. Beckett

Los Angeles Angels (66-40) +170, 8 1/2 at Boston Red Sox (61-47), 7 pm Eastern Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com

You might all want to run away for a few days. We’re really chit the bed dropping our last four picks taking favorites which we rarely do. Argh!

The best team in baseball so far this season goes for a sweep of a three-game series against the defending World Series champions when the Los Angeles Angels take on the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Hardball bookies are listing the Red Sox and starting pitcher Josh Beckett (9-7, 3.83, 1.17 WHIP) as 180 home favorites for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 8 1/2, while Los Angeles and Joe Saunders (13-5, 3.10, 1.14) are getting +170 as road underdogs.

The Angels will have a new big bat in their line-up as they shoot for the sweep, as slugger Mark Teixeira, obtained in a trade with the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, is expected to make his debut for his new team tonight.

LA has taken the first two games of this series, and is 9-2 since the All-Star break. Last night, Angels pitcher John Lackey nearly tossed a no-hitter in a 6-2 LA win.

So going into Wednesday’s play, the Angels lead the AL West by 11 1/2 games over the second-place Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, Boston, which has lost four of its last five games and is just 4-7 since the break, is still in second place in the AL East, two games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.

The Angels are a ML-best 35-19 on the road this year, a solid 23-11 as underdogs, and 56-50 vs. the run line.

The Sox are 37-15 at Fenway Park this season, 51-30 as favorites, and 52-56 vs. the run line.

The Angels have taken seven of eight games from Boston so far this season, with the totals going 4-4, as the games have averaged 10.4 total runs per.

Last year, Boston took six of 10 games from LA, with the totals going 6-3-1, as the games averaged 10.6 runs. The Red Sox also swept the Angels in three games in a wild-card round playoff series, by scores of 4-0, 6-3 and 9-1.

Over his last three starts, including a mediocre effort vs. Baltimore last Friday, Saunders has allowed eight ER and 23 baserunners (hits + walks) in 21 1/3 IP. The Angels are 15-5 in Saunders’ starts this year, the totals 8-11.

Saunders made two starts vs. the Red Sox last year, and two more this season, giving up 10 ER and 36 BR in 25 2/3 IP. Los Angeles won all four of those games, with the totals going 2-2.

Over his last three starts, including a tough-luck performance vs. the Yankees last Friday, Beckett has given up 10 ER and 30 BR in 20 IP. Boston is 10-9 in Beckett’s starts this year, the totals 8-10.

Beckett has started four games vs. the Angels this year and last, allowing six ER and 27 BR in 30 IP. The Sox split those four games, with the totals going 1-2-1.

These two pitchers matched up July 19 in Anaheim, with Saunders getting the better of Beckett in a 4-2 LA victory.

Offensively, Los Angeles ranks 15th in the majors this season in team BA at .261, 22nd in team OBP at .322, 22nd in team slugging at .399, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game.

Boston ranks 3rd in batting at .278, 2nd in OBP at .354, 6th in slugging at .441, and is averaging 5.0 RPG.

But over their last 10 games, the Sox have scored more than four runs just three times.

Over the last five games, the LA bullpen has allowed nine ER and 21 BR in 16 1/3 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the Boston pen has given up five ER and 14 BR in 14 1/3 IP.

The totals are 40-61 in Angels games this year, 48-52 in Sox games, and 24-26 in games played at Fenway Park, which are averaging 9.5 total runs this season.

Zman’s Pick: I want no part of laying -180 juice nor playing the Angels after they’re looking for a sweep on the road. I’m going to take cover and take the UNDER 8.5 runs hoping to break this funk I’m in. Good luck!