Los Angeles Angels (94-68) +145, o/u 8 at Boston Red Sox (96-66), 6:30 pm Eastern Wednesday, TBS
The American League playoffs kick off Wednesday evening when the best of the West, the Los Angeles Angels, visit Fenway Park for the opener of a best-of-five divisional series with the champs of the East, the Boston Red Sox.
The Angels led the AL West all season long, but had to fend off the Seattle Mariners well into August. Boston also led its division all season, but had to withstand a great second-half rally by the Yankees.
The Red Sox went 51-30 at home this season while Los Angeles went 40-41 on the road.
John Lackey (19-9, 3.01) will take the hill for the Angels in the series opener Wednesday vs. Josh Beckett (20-7, 3.27) for Boston.
Los Angeles went 23-10 in Lackey’s starts this season, the o/u 13-17, while Boston went 21-9 when Beckett started this year, the o/u 14-15.
Both pitchers ended the regular season with some good efforts. Lackey allowed just three ER and 16 baserunners over his last 22 IP, and Beckett gave up seven ER and 21 baserunners over his last 19 IP.
But while Lackey got bopped for nine ER and 21 baserunners over 9 2/3 IP in two starts vs. the Red Sox this season, Beckett held the Angels to two ER and 13 baserunners over 13 IP of his two starts vs. L.A. this season.
The Sox took the season series with the Angels this season six games to four, with the o/u going 6-3-1. Boston outscored the Angels 64-42 in those 10 games.
The Red Sox offense ranked second in the majors with its .362 team OBP, and averaged 5.3 runs per game. Los Angeles posted a .345 team OBP this year, which ranked fifth in the league, and they averaged 5.1 RPG. The Angels also ranked third in the league with 139 stolen bases.
The Boston bullpen ranked second in the majors this season in both ERA at 3.10 and WHIP at 1.23. The Los Angeles pen ranked 20th in the league with a 4.22 ERA and sixth in WHIP at 1.30.
On the injury front for the Red Sox, slugger David Ortiz is battling a bad right knee, and OF Manny Ramirez just returned from a month off with a strained oblique muscle.
For the Angels, OF Vlad Guerrero is being bothered by a sore triceps, and he’s been DHing recently, which removes his gun of an arm from right field. And Los Angeles had to leave CF Gary Matthews off the post-season roster because of his bad knee.
Boston is listed at right around -175 to win this divisional-round series, while the Angles are getting +155. The Red Sox are also posted at around +175 to win the American League pennant and +300 to win the World Series, while Los Angles is listed at about +375 to win the pennant and +600 to win the Series.
The o/u is 75-80 in Angels games this season, 75-84 in Boston games. Also, the total played to a 43-35 mark at Fenway Park this year, where games averaged 10.2 runs per game, eighth-most amongst all ML ballparks.
The Zman Pick: The Sox have hit Lackey well this season. We expect more of the same today!