Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels Preview and Pick – Baker vs. Lackey

Minnesota Twins (72-54) +140, 8 at Los Angeles Angels (77-48), 10 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Minnesota Twins, involved in tight races in both the AL Central and AL wild-card, begin a 14-game road trip with four games in Anaheim vs. the Angels, starting Thursday night.

Hardball bookmakers are listing Los Angeles and starting pitcher John Lackey (10-2, 3.22) as 150 home favorites for Thursday’s game, with a total of 8, while Minnesota and Scot Baker (7-3, 3.91) are getting +140 as road underdogs.

The Twins just took two of three games from the Oakland A’s this week, and have won six of their last seven.

Meanwhile, the Angels avoided a sweep by beating the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday night 5-4, but they’ve still lost of five their last seven games.

So going into this weekend’s play, Minnesota is in second place in the Central, one game back of the first-place Chicago White Sox, while LA’s lead in the AL West is still a healthy 15 1/2 games over the second-place Texas Rangers.

The Twins are also only a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL wild-card race.

The Twins are 18 games over .500 this year, but only 26-31 on the road. Minnesota is also 35-41 as underdogs.

The Angels are 37-23 at home this season, 51-32 as favorites.

In the only previous encounter between these two teams this season, LA took three of four games from the Twins in Minneapolis back in April, with the totals going 1-3, as the games averaged just 6.3 total runs per.

Over his last three starts, including a shaky performance vs. Seattle last Saturday, Baker has allowed 12 ER and 29 baserunners (hits + walks) in 17 2/3 IP.

Baker stared twice last season vs. the Angels, and got clipped for 11 ER and 23 BR in just 11 IP. Minnesota lost those games by scores of 10-1 and 5-1.

Over his last three starts, including a mediocre outing in a win at Cleveland last Saturday, Lackey has given up 10 ER and 30 BR in 19 IP.

Lackey started three games last year vs. Minnesota, allowing 11 ER and 29 BR in 20 IP. Los Angeles lost two of those games, and two of them went under the totals.

Offensively, Minnesota ranks 4th in the majors this season in team BA at .280, 11th in team OBP at .340, 18th in team slugging at .413, and is averaging 5.1 runs per game.

Los Angeles ranks 15th in batting at .264, 18th in OBP at .327, 21st in slugging at .405, and is averaging 4.7 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Minnesota bullpen has allowed six ER and 19 BR in 13 2/3 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the LA pen has given up three ER and 21 BR in 12 IP.

The totals are 69-57 in Twins games this year, 53-68 in Angels games, and 25-31 in games played at Angels Stadium.

Zman’s Pick: Passing.