Los Angeles Angels (22-14) +130, o/u 8 at Tampa Bay Rays (18-16), 7:10 pm Eastern Friday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The best team in the West meets one of the pleasant surprises of this early season when the Los Angeles Angels visit the Tampa Bay Rays for the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Online Sportsbooks are listing Tampa and starting pitcher James Shields (3-2, 3.80, 1.36 WHIP) as -140 home favorites for Friday’s game, with an over/under of 8 , while LA and starter Jon Garland (4-3, 5.08, 1.51) are getting +130 as road dogs.
The Angels just took two of three games from the Royals in Kansas City, and have now won five straight road series. Los Angeles, which has also won four of its last five games, is tied for first place in the AL West with the Oakland A’s, six games clear of the third-place Texas Rangers.
The Rays, meanwhile, who are off to the best start in franchise history, just capped off a 4-5 road trip by taking two of three games from the Blue Jays in Toronto. So Tampa, which has also won six straight games at home, occupies second place in the AL East, trailing the Boston Red Sox by 3 games.
This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last year, LA took six of eight games from the Rays, while the totals went 4-4, as the games averaged 8.8 total runs.
The Angels are a ML-best 12-6 on the road this season, 8-4 as underdogs and 18-18 vs. the run line. On the other side of this match-up, TB is 10-7 at home this year, 7-6 as favorites and 20-14 vs. the run line.
Over his last three starts, which includes a solid performance in a 3-1 win over Baltimore last Saturday, Garland has allowed 12 ER and 27 baserunners (hits + walks) in 20 IP. Los Angeles is 4-3 in Garland’s starts this season, the o/u also 4-3.
As a member of the Chicago White Sox last year, Garland made one start vs. the Rays, giving up just one ER and seven BR in seven innings in a 6-1 Sox victory.
Over his three most recent starts, including a bombing at the hands of the Boston Red Sox last Saturday, Shields has allowed nine ER and 24 BR in 19 2/3 innings of work. Tampa Bay is 4-3 in Shields’ starts this year, the o/u also 4-3.
Shields made one start vs. the Angels last season, holding them to two ER and eight BR in seven IP of an 8-3 Rays win.
Offensively speaking, LA ranks 7th in the majors in team batting averaging at .274, 13th in team OBP at .334, 7th in team slugging at .427, and is scoring 4.8 runs per game.
On the other line-up card, TB ranks 21st in batting at .251, 18th in OBP at .323, 18th in slugging at .391, and is scoring 4.7 RPG.
The Angels bullpen, over its last five games, has limited opponents to two ER and 16 BR in 16 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, the Rays pen, over its last five games, has been clubbed for 16 ER and 34 BR in 17 2/3 IP.
On the injury front, Los Angeles 3B Chone Figgins, who hasn’t played in nearly a week because of a bad hammy, is listed as questionable for Friday’s game, as is 1B Casey Kotchman, who missed the Angels’ last game with a tweaked groin.
The o/u is 16-19 in LA games this season, which are averaging 9.4 total runs per, while the totals are 15-19 in Tampa games, which are averaging 9.1 runs. Also, the o/u is 5-12 in games played at Tropicana Field this season, which are averaging just 8.1 RPG, after averaging 9.9 runs last season.
Zman’s Pick: I like Tampa to win at home tonight.