As the this weekend marks the last set of series for Major League Baseball’s Interleague schedule, one of the best remaining sets of games is laid out on the West Coast, as the Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers (42-28, 18-16 away) and the hosting Los Angeles Angels (38-32, 20-16 home) gets set to kick off with Game 1 taking place tonight at 10:05 PM ET from Angel Stadium of Anaheim. With the Dodgers desperately needing a turnaround effort tonight after just being swept in 3 games by the Oakland Athletics, and the Angels riding high on two straight crushing victories over the San Francisco Giants, expect this match-up tonight to be a hotly-contested and very entertaining match-up for watching and for wagering on at one of the top reviewed online sportsbooks found at CR.
For the match-up of starting pitchers tonight, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be sending Chad Billingsley (4-5, 3.75 ERA) to the mound to battle the Angels’ Dan Haren (4-7, 3.97 ERA). Billingsley will look to overcome a rough start he experienced against the Chicago White Sox, in which he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in a 5-4 loss. Despite that hiccup, Billingsley had been pitching quite strong in June, allowing just 2 runs in his previous two starts (14 innings of work, 2 wins), but has to focus on keeping extra runners of the base path. Billingsley’s main weakness has been his WHIP, which runs 1.40 against the National League this season, meaning that he’ll need to avoid giving up costly walks, especially to a team like the Angels who have been on fire at the plate this month. Coinciding with that, the Dodgers bats’ are currently stuck in a serious slump, scoring just 2 runs while between swept in 3 games by Oakland preceding this weekend’s clash. The boys in blue have lost 5 of their last 7 games, which includes dropping 2 of the 3 games against the Angels in the last series at Dodger Stadium, which means for tonight the Dodgers bats either have to get cranking, or Billingsley has to pitch a gem to keep them in contention.
The supposed good thing for Dodger hitters tonight is that they’ll see Dan Haren on the mound, who has struggled to find consistency this season. He’s given up 18 hits and 9 earned runs in his last two games, and was shelled for 4 home runs and 10 hits in Colorado two starts ago. Luckily for him, he’s been given a little extra rest for tonight’s game, having not pitched since a loss to Arizona on June 15th, in which he gave up 5 runs in a 5-0 loss. Though consistency hasn’t been there for Haren, he’s still managed to win three of his last 5 starts, owed mainly to the improved presence of Angels hitting. Few pitchers are able to walk away with a victory after getting torched for 4 home runs, which says something about the offensive renaissance the Angels are experiencing (which put up 11 runs of support for Haren in that game) as well as Haren’s ability to keep base runners off the base paths. That said, Haren will face a different challenge tonight, other than avoiding the big home run and lots of hits, which is simply overcoming a poor record while pitching at home. At Angel Stadium, Haren is just 1-5 on the season with a 4.09 ERA in 8 starts, while opponents are hitting .283 against him. There has to be a reversal in that trend, because if the Dodgers are able to find some confidence in their hitting game tonight, this series could quickly swing in favor of the visitors for the remainder fo the weekend. Luckily in this series, history is strongly on the side of Haren against the LA Dodgers, going 2-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 9 starts against them, allowing a .247 batting average. We’ll see if that previous history of strong starts can carry over into Haren reversing a negative trend, and keep him competitive with Chad Billingsley this evening.
Though the Angels batting order has been tearing it up lately, there’s good news for the Dodgers with Billingsley on the hill, in that he’s allowed just 6 RBIs combined to their entire line-up over 109 combined career at-bats. Most important is his record against Pujols, holding the Angels’ slugger to just 3 hits in 18 at-bats and no home runs and no RBIs. There is no question that if Billingsley is to walk out with a victory tonight, he cannot allow Pujols to put runs on the board in droves with one big swing from the middle of the Angels’ order, and history seems to say he’ll do well to work around Pujols tonight. Another key player to watch out for on the home side tonight is Torii Hunter, who while not having much success against Billingsley, going 2-for-11 lifetime, is having quite a nice run through June, hitting just over .300 with 4 homers and 11 RBIs. He has had lots of success against NL pitchers in Interleague play, posting a .370 batting average (17-for-46) thus far. Add in guys like Mark Trumbo, who’s currently on a tear with 7 homers and 22 RBIs for the month, and Mike Trout, the rookie phenom who is hitting .395 in June and .338 overall for the season, and you’ve got a number of potent batsmen that will give Billingsley plenty of cause for concern as he tries to keep the scoring down to a minimum.
The Dodgers on the other hand only wish they could be experiencing an offensive resurgence at the moment, but instead the heart of their batting order is slumping through one of the worst spells of offense seen this season. Against Oakland, the top three Dodger hitters, Andre Either, Elian Herrera and Dee Gordon combined for just 2 hits in 35 at-bats. Andre Either, who has been tasked with shouldering the offensive load while Matt Kemp sits out on the 15-day DL, has been a non-factor since Kemp went out, batting .171 for the month and going 1-for-14 in his last 4 games combined. It’s evident that Either does not have leadership ability to carry the Dodgers on offense, so until Matt Kemp comes back in the line-up we can expect to see Either continue to struggle, but without any other major players coming to the plate in this series against the Angeles, Either has to find some way to pull out of his funk and lead at the plate. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Either has had success against Haren during his career, going 17-for-44 (.386) with 2 homers and 7 RBIs. Another Dodger to watch is James Loney, who has been sitting games against lefties, but against a right-hander in Haren who he’s batting .359 against (14-for-39), expect him to possibly add some pop as well for the Dodgers. Bottom line for the Dodgers though; with little in the way of big power at the plate right now, there has to be a team effort to accumulate multiple hits in an inning, and find a way to put crooked numbers on the board early in the game. Without Billingsley getting some cushion underneath him, he’ll be hung out to dry against a stacked Angels line-up that is still looking like they have room to improve on offense yet.
Betting Lines for the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels at Oddsmaker Sportsbook.
The home team Los Angeles Angels will find themselves as -164 favorites to win tonight’s match-up straight up on the money line. Though Dan Haren has struggled recently, he’s due for a quality performance, and there’s no better time than against the slumping bats of the Dodgers. For the underdog tonight, the visiting Dodgers will be at +149 odds behind Chad Billingsley, who with a great pitching effort could find himself picking up a big victory for underdog pickers who are counting on a low-scoring tight game tonight. Risky it may be, but potentially rewarding as well.
Against the spread, the Angels will need to make up 1.5 runs to cover, getting +135 odds of doing so. The Dodgers backers on the spread will get 1.5 runs of support to play with, but will see -155 odds on that end. If you’re sticking with the Angels to win tonight, this bet may be just the way to go, especially considering the troubles that the Dodgers have had putting runs on the board recently. There doesn’t seem to be too much chance of improving the offensive output without Matt Kemp in the line-up, so unless Billingsley pitches an absolute gem and goes near the distance, expectations should be high that the home side can cover the spread tonight.
For the total runs line, the over/under sits at 7.5 runs, banking on the quiet offense of the Dodgers to continue being subdued on the road this evening. Taking the under wager gets you -125 odds, with the bookmakers at Oddsmaker expecting the Dodgers to weigh down the run total, and pushing over the 7.5 runs will find you with +105 odds. With the way Billingsley has faired against Angels’ hitters in his career, and with the way the Dodgers are hitting, expect to see most wagers side with the under bet on total points tonight.
Any which way you wager on this exciting Freeway Series match-up, get ready for a great showdown for Game 1 between the Dodgers and Angels, in the conclusion of Interleague play for both teams. Get those wagers placed early for the best available odds at Oddsmaker sportsbook, and we hope you come out a winner by the end of the night!