The Los Angeles Angels (45-35, 23-18 away) seek to continue their excellent run of form away from home over the past month, building on a Game 1 win last night against the Cleveland Indians (40-39, 20-19 home) heading into the middle game of a 3-game set at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. With game time set to commence just after 7:05 PM ET, spot this match-up as one of the key American League clashes to watch out for on the betting lines at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed at CR today.
Despite the fact that Dan Haren (6-7, 4.53 ERA), tonight’s starter for the Angels, has been incredibly inconsistent this season, there are two very good reasons why he should never be ruled out to lock in a victory for the Angels, especially during their heated run of road form in which the Halos have taken 16 of their last 19 games away from home dating back to May 22nd. Haren has been quite simply lousy in his last 4 starts, posting a 7.94 ERA during that stretch, but he’s still sitting on a 3-1 record during that time, showing the ridiculous amount of run support he’s been getting night-in and night-out. Even allowing a season-high 6 runs in his last start against Toronto didn’t phase the Angels, who still managed to earn him a win in a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays. That certainly bodes wel for Haren’s chances heading into tonight’s match-up at Progressive Field, where Dan Haren has been superb. In his 5 starts at Progressive Field, he’s 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, and this year he’s already had one outstanding outing at Cleveland in a 2-1 win, in which he gave up just 1 run on 4 hits in 8 innings of work. Interestingly enough, that was Haren’s only victory of the year during his first 9 starts, as he suffered through absolutely no run support. Things have changed on the support side, but it’s yet to be seen if another return to Cleveland is what it will take to get Haren back on track this season. With his track record strong here, and no one in the Cleveland batting order hitting better than .296 against him (.212 overall as a team), the timing couldn’t be better for Haren to get his groove back tonight.
In opposition though, one must taken into account the stellar efforts of rookie pitcher Zach McAllister, who holds a 2-1 record and a 3.82 ERA over 5 starts this season. Cleveland seems to have plenty of confidence behind this young pitcher, winning 4 of 5 games in which he’s started, and even though he’s been sent down to Triple-A over the past month, he rebounded well in a return start last week, going 5 2/3 innings allowing just 2 runs. Interestingly for McAllister, he’s helped the Indians to win all three of his starts at home, and has not allowed an opposing team to get a hold of the deep ball in 18 innings of work on his own mound. That stat will be very important to stay clean on, as Anaheim walks into tonight’s game with one of the most intimidating batting orders currently playing in the majors. Fortunately for the rookie McAllister, he should have a bit of an advantage having not being seen by an Angels’ batsmen thus far in his career. Look for him to focus on avoiding the walks, (he’s issued 1 or fewer base on balls in 4 of his 5 starts), keep the ball down in the zone, and use his arsenal of different fastballs (4-seam, 2-seam, cut) alongside a solid change-up and curveball tonight. If he can effectively mix up his pitches and avoid being too hedged on his fastballs McAllister should be able to have another quality outing in his 6th MLB start.
With both pitchers throwing well at Progressive Field in this match-up, turning to the batting orders of both sides is where we can start to see the advantage for the visiting Angels start to creep up. Really the only Cleveland player with any success against Dan Haren in Johnny Damon, who has past his prime hitting .201 for the season, and is 1-for-12 in his last 4 games. He’s batting .296 (8-for-27) over his career against Haren, but there’s not much to look for here in the waning moments of his 17-year career. There’s not a lot of success elsewhere in the line-up, so Cleveland is going to have to rely on someone improving their form in this match-up tonight, and that includes Asdrubal Cabrera (.295, 11 home runs, 40 RBI), Shin-Soo Choo (.290, 8 homers, 30 RBI), and Jason Kipnis (.272, 11 homers, 47 RBI). While none of these hitters are batting better than .200 against Haren over their careers, the Indians will be reliant on each of them to step up tonight considering how much run support the Angels give their starter.
For the Angels, there’s a wealth of hot bats to look out for tonight, including those in the hands of Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Interestingly Mark Trumbo, despite his .308 average and 20 home runs with 55 RBI this year, has been very unsuccessful against Cleveland, batting 1-for-11 against them this season. However, hitless in last night’s game, and only having 4 instances this where he’s been held without a hit in back-to-back games, expect him to get back in his game at the plate and be a factor against the rookie Zach McAllister. Also one to keep an eye on is Albert Pujols, who is showing signs of a resurgence heading into the All-Star break. He’s upped his batting average 12 points in just over a week going 9-for-26 in his last 7 games. While his production isn’t quite there (1 home run, 4 RBI over that stretch), Pujols seems to be seeing the ball better at the plate and as the heart of the Angels’ offense he’ll be a factor tonight especially if the rookie McAllister makes even a single mistake against him. Lastly, although Mike Trout may be questionable after injuring his hand on Sunday, even if he doesn’t play the Angels will fill in his strong hitting with that of Erick Aybar, who has 3 multi-hit games in his last 4 starts, and 6 in his last 10. He’s hitless in just 1 game in those last 10 outings, so expect Aybar to be a perfectly capable replacement at the top of the batting order for Los Angeles, should Trout (hitting .339 with 9 homers and 33 RBI this season) not be able to go.
Betting lines for the Los Angeles Angels vs. Cleveland Indians at TopBet Sportsbook.
The Los Angeles Angels, mainly via their impressive road record as of late, hold the advantage as favorites on the betting lines at TopBet sportsbook, getting -120 odds to win straight up on the money line behind Dan Haren. Cleveland will come in as +110 underdogs, which isn’t much to work with considering the strength of Haren against this line-up, and at Progressive Field, AND the power of the Angels’ bats to dictate the bottom line in games Haren is pitching in.
For against the spread picks, Los Angeles will need to cover 1.5 runs as favorites at +125 odds, which could be the best bet of the evening on this match-up. With the Angels not hitting all that well in last night’s 3-0 win (not needing to with Jered Weaver on the mound), there seems an opportunity here to expect a rebound in the Angels’ bats against a young pitcher like Zach McAllister. With great odds to take LA to cover the spread, this is a tempting pick for certain. We don’t really see how its worth backing the Indians to stay within 1.5 runs, getting -145 odds to do so.
For the total runs line, a lofty 9.5 runs is set out for the over/under, which could be favorable to under pickers considering the form of both of tonight’s starting pitchers in this ballpark. While Haren hasn’t pitched well lately, he’s due for a bounce back and Progressive Field is just the place for him to do that. McAllister has also been very good at home, helping the Indians to win all three games he’s pitched there, but the elephant in the room is the fact that Haren has gotten 24 runs of support in his last 3 starts. If McAllister struggles, the Angels just may cover the over bet by themselves tonight.