Featured Midweek MLB Match-up: Los Angeles Angels at …

The battle for the American League West is alive and well heading past the 100-game mark of the season, and for tonight another critical match-up is set between the Los Angeles Angels (57-47, 27-25 away) and the Texas Rangers (59-43, 32-21 home) in Game 3 of a 4-game series. With Texas leading by just 3 games over Los Angeles at the top of the AL West, and with Oakland nipping at both teams’ heels, each game heading down the home stretch will be hugely important, starting with this match-up tonight set for 8:05 PM ET at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

The Texas Rangers will send out Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.05 ERA) against LA’s Garrett Richards (3-2, 3.91 ERA) in what should be an intriguing match-up between two solid pitchers who haven’t been on their best form lately. For Darvish, he’s been nothing like his first-half of the season self, with a 1-3 record and 5.74 ERA in the month of July and 17 earned runs given up in just 26.2 innings of work over that stretch. After winning his first seven games of the season at home, Darvish has lost his last 2 in a row there, with an ERA of 5.40 in the process. Fortunately in his last away game against the Angels just two weeks ago, Darvish looked to be more like himself, holding the Angels to just 2 runs on 3 hits over seven innings while striking out 11 batters in a 9-2 victory. Continued concern lies with Darvish’s control, as he’s issued 14 walks in his last 4 starts, however if he can get some run support at home and keep the Angels from getting clutch hits once again, there is a very good chance the Rangers can prevail over Los Angeles this evening. The 25 year-old fireballer is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 18 2/3 innings against the Angels, averaging 8 strikeouts per game, so expect another solid performance as this great pitcher tries to regain his form for the push down the season stretch.

For Garrett Richards on the other hand, the rookie out of Riverside, CA will look to lock in another strong effort before likely making his way back to Triple-A, as Dan Haren is set to return from battling back stiffness. Making his 9th start of the season, Richards has been solid away from home so far, with a 3.31 ERA and a 1-1 record in three appearances. In 5 2/3 innings of work against the Rangers over two appearances, Richards has held Texas to just a .222 batting average, while accumulating a 1.59 ERA with just 4 hits allowed. It’s to his advantage that the Rangers have not seen very much of him, as with only Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy and Michael Young recording a hit off the young righty, hopefully Richards can build on his success and recover from what has been a forgettable month of July (1-1, 6.06 ERA). This has to be one of the biggest games for Richards in his short career, as it may be the last impression he’ll be able to make as a starter for the Angels this season.

The Rangers, despite dropping the first two games of this crucial series, should have the upper hand at home with the favorable pitching match-up, as Darvish has held the Angels’ batsmen to just a .174 batting average in three starts against them. Just two players on the LA roster have had success against him, with Alberto Callaspo being one (3-for-6, 1 RBI, 1 wallk) and Mike Trout (4-for-9, 1 homer, 3 RBI, 2 walks) being the other. Callaspo however has a 5-game hitless streak going, so the Angels will look to Trout to anchor their line-up, and hopefully get some added impact from some big hitters who have yet to have success against Darvish. Albert Pujols could be one solution, as he looks to have a third straight multi-hit game in this series after going 5-for-9 through 2 games, as could Torii Hunter, who went 2-for-5 last night with 2 RBI in a 6-2 Angels win.

Betting Lines for the Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels at TopBet sportsbook.

The Texas Rangers are straight up favorites tonight, despite Yu Darvish’s recent struggles at home, and the Angels owning this series 7-4 so far this season. Tonight, look for Texas as -164 favorites to win on the money line, while the Angels, trying to complete a road sweep to pull within 2 games of the AL West lead, are +149 underdogs behind the rookie Garrett Richards.

Against the spread, Texas will have to cover 1 1/2 runs as favorites, getting slight +115 odds to do so at home. After being outscored 21-10 during the first two games of this series, Texas will need its’ bats to come alive, and get an equally quality showing from Darvish, who’s lost 2 straight on his own mound. With Darvish pitching well against the Angels, and Texas itching to get back in a groove at the plate, there’s plenty of reason to like the spread pick on Texas tonight, to stop their skid and get back in the win column.

For the last betting lines on total runs, the over/under is set at 10 this evening, in an expectation that both teams will be able to produce some big numbers at the plate. Though Garrett Richards has struggled recently to find his form, as has Darvish, with both pitchers well aware of how crucial this game will be tonight, we’re looking out for a lower-scoring game than expected, after two wilder games preceding Game 3. With the under wager offering -105 odds, we’re tempted to take a small bet banking on a solid performance from Darvish to lead the way. The over wager at -115 odds seems a bit of a push for the possible reward, so if you’re going to lean over/under, the best bet appears to be siding with the under wager today.

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