Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview and Pick

Los Angeles Angels (76-48) +115, 8 1/2 at Tampa Bay Rays (77-48), 7 pm Eastern Wednesday, ESPN2
by Zman of Predictem.com

The upstart Tampa Bay Rays go for the sweep of a three-game series against the AL-West leading Los Angeles Angels Wednesday night in St. Petersburg.

Baseball bookmakers are listing Tampa and starting pitcher Matt Garza (10-7, 3.63, 1.21 WHIP) as 125 home favorites for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 8 1/2, while Los Angeles and Jered Weaver (10-9, 4.47, 1.32) are getting +115 as road underdogs.

By taking the first two games of this series, by scores of 6-4 and 4-2, Tampa, which is 16-4 over its last 20 games, has overtaken LA, which has lost five of its last six, for the best record in the American League.

So going into Wednesday’s action, Tampa’s lead in the AL East is 4 1/2 games over the second-place Boston Red Sox, while LA’s lead in the AL West remains at 15 1/2 games over the second-place Texas Rangers.

The Rays have somehow stayed hot even with 3B Evan Longoria, OF Carl Crawford and closer Troy Percival on the disabled list with various injuries.

Los Angeles is a ML-best 39-25 on the road this year, 25-15 as underdogs, and 63-61 vs. the run line.

Tampa, meanwhile, is a ML-best 47-17 at home this season, 56-25 as favorites, and 66-59 vs. the run line.

The Rays have taken six of eight games from the Angels so far this season, with the totals going 5-3, as the games have averaged 7.9 total runs per.


Over his last three starts, including a decent outing at Cleveland last Friday, Weaver has allowed 13 ER and 25 baserunners (hits + walks) in 16 1/3 IP. Los Angeles is 12-12 in Weaver’s starts this year, the totals 11-13.

Weaver has started one game over the last two seasons vs. Tampa, holding the Rays to one ER and six BR in eight IP of a 6-1 Angels win back in June of this season.

Over his last three starts, including a shutout vs. Texas last Friday, Garza has given up nine ER and 24 BR in 19 2/3 IP. Tampa is 12-11 in Garza’s starts this year, the totals 8-15.

Garza, who’s ERA this season is more than two runs better at home than on the road, has started once in his ML career vs. Angels, as a member of the Minnesota Twins last July, allowing three ER and 10 BR in 5 1/3 IP of a 7-2 Twins loss.

Offensively, LA ranks 15th in the majors this season in team BA at .264, 18th in team OBP at .327, 22nd in team slugging at .406, and is averaging 4.7 runs per game. And four of the Angels’ last five games have gone under the totals, as LA has scored just 15 runs over that span.

Tampa ranks 20th in batting at .259, 13th in OBP at .337, 15th in slugging at .417, and is averaging 4.6 RPG.

Over the last five games, the LA bullpen has allowed three ER and 22 BR in 11 2/3 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the TB pen has given up four ER and 24 BR in 16 2/3 IP.

The totals are 51-68 in Angels games this year, 51-72 in Rays games. And three of Tampa’s last five games have gone under the totals, as TB pitching has allowed just 13 runs over that span.

And the totals are 26-37 in games played at Tropicana Field this season, which are averaging 8.1 total runs, 5th-fewest among all ML ballparks.

Zman’s Pick: My money is on the Rays as a small home favorite.