Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels – Jackson vs. Saunders

Tampa Bay Rays (37-26) +135, 8 at Los Angeles Angels (39-25), 10 pm Eastern Monday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The best of the AL West meets the most pleasant surprise in baseball so far this season when the Los Angeles Angels play host to the Tampa Bay Rays for the opener of a three-game series Monday night in Anaheim.

Baseball Bookies are listing Los Angeles and starting pitcher Joe Saunders as -150 home favorites for Monday’s game, with a total of 8 , while Tampa and Edwin Jackson are getting around +135 as road underdogs.

Tampa, 2-4 so far on this current nine-game road trip after taking two of three games at Texas over the weekend, sits in second place in the AL East, a game and a half behind the first-place Boston Red Sox.

LA had a seven-game winning streak snapped by a loss to Oakland Sunday. So going into this week’s action, the Angels lead the AL West by 4 1/2 games over the second-place A’s.


Tampa Bay is 13-16 on the road this year, 14-15 as underdogs and 35-28 vs. the run line. Meanwhile, LA is 18-13 at home this season, 24-15 as favorites and 33-31 vs. the run line.

Jackson (3-5, 3.95), over his last three starts, including a mediocre outing vs. Boston last week, has allowed 11 ER and 30 BR in 16 IP. Tampa is 6-6 in Jackson’s starts this year, the totals 3-8.

Jackson started twice vs. the Angels last year, and got clipped for seven ER and 24 baserunners in just 10 2/3 IP. The Rays lost both those games, and both games went over their totals.

Over his last three starts, including a solid seven-inning performance last Tuesday vs. Seattle, Saunders (9-2, 2.63) has given up seven ER and 21 BR in 20 1/3 IP. Los Angeles is 10-2 in Saunders’ starts this season, the totals 5-6.

Saunders has started once in his career vs. the Rays, a month ago in Tampa, holding them to one ER and eight BR in six innings of a 2-0 Angels loss.

Last year, the Angels took the season series from the Rays six games to two, with the totals going 4-4, as the games averaged 8.8 total runs per. But in the first encounter between these two teams this season, Tampa swept three games from LA a month ago in Florida, outscoring the Angels 12-5.

On the offensive side of this match-up, Tampa ranks 14th in the majors this season in team batting at .261, 9th in team OBP at .333, 16th in team slugging at .405, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game. But outside of a 12-run outburst Friday vs. the Rangers, the Rays have scored just 23 runs over their previous nine games. And eight of Tampa’s last 10 games have stayed under their totals.

LA ranks 19th in batting at .254, 26th in OBP at .319, 23rd in slugging at .381, and is averaging 4.2 RPG. And the Angels haven’t scored more than five runs in a game in their last 18 games.

The Tampa Bay bullpen has been bopped around for 11 ER and 35 BR over its last five games, covering 19 IP.

The LA pen has allowed six ER and 12 BR in its last five games, covering 14 1/3 innings of work.

On the personnel front, Tampa may be a bit shorthanded this week, following the suspensions of Carl Crawford and four others for a fight vs. Boston last week. The suspensions are scheduled to begin later this week, and appeals are expected. Also, Tampa 1B Carlos Pena and closer Troy Percival are both on the DL with various ailments. On the other side of this match-up, LA 3B Chone Figgins is still on the DL with a bad hammy, and slugger Vlad Guerrero has missed recent action with a bad wheel.

The totals are 25-37 in Rays games this year, 23-38 in LA games, and 10-20 at Angel Stadium, where games are averaging 8.65 total runs this season.

Zman’s Pick: Im on the Angels at -145 riding the Saunders train until it crashes.