The Tampa Bay Rays (65-54, 33-27 away) have been keeping pace with the New York Yankees in the American League East division, and with 8 wins in their last 10 games, they’ll try tonight to cap three straight victories over the struggling Los Angeles Angels (62-58, 33-27 home), who have dropped 5 out of their last 7 to fall 2.5 games out of 1st place in the Wild Card race. In a critical Game 3 of a 4-game series at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, expect an Angels team desperate for a rebound, and a Tampa Bay team looking hot at the plate to provide plenty of excitement for online sports betting on Saturday.
Tampa Bay will put Alex Cobb (7-8, 4.08 ERA) on the mound tonight in opposition to Los Angeles’ C.J. Wilson (9-9, 3.32 ERA) in what should make for a solid pitching match-up. Cobb has faced the Angels once already this season, getting a loss in a 3-1 defeat in which he three 7 innings, giving up all three runs in the loss. However, he’ll be in prime shape to bounce back in this series, in which Tampa Bay has simply owned the Angels, winning 7 out of 8 games on the season, and 4 straight coming into tonight. It’s been the Tampa pitching staff that has truly made the difference in the second half, helping the Rays to 14 wins in their last 19 games, and for the Angels who are looking to recover from a frustrating time at the plate against the talented Tampa Bay pitching staff, they’ll need to find some offense to support C.J. Wilson, who has not won a game in his last 9 starts. Like Cobb, Wilson was unlucky in his last outing against Tampa Bay, getting no run support in a 3-0 loss in which he threw a solid 7 innings, giving up 3 runs in the process. The advantage on the mound has to go with Cobb though tonight, who looks for a 4th consecutive win after allowing just 3 runs in his last three outings. Though Wilson’s .162 opponent batting average against the Rays is promising, the fact that ace Jered Weaver couldn’t get out of yesterday’s game without getting pounded for 9 runs in 3 innings should have a lot more sports bettors leaning on Tampa Bay to pick up their 9th win in 11 games.
A big problem that C.J. Wilson will have to figure out is what to do about the Tampa Bay bats, which have eaten up Angels’ pitching to the tune of 19 runs in two games during this series. B.J. Upton caught fire last night with a 4-for-5 outing with 3 RBIs, and is hitting .357 over his last 7 games. Fortunately, Wilson has been solid against Upton, holding him to just 2 hits in 17 career at-bats (.118 avg.). He’s also been good against Jose Molina, who’s got an 8-game hitting streak coming into today’s game, holding the catcher to 0-for-13 lifetime against him. However, with Ben Zobrist catching fire (.462 in the last 7 days), and with Tampa confident at the plate now with Evan Longoria back in action, C.J. Wilson is going to have to work double duty to support his own anemic offense, and prevent big numbers from being put on the board in the early goings. Support has been an issue for Wilson in this series, posting an 0-2 record despite giving up just 5 runs over 13.2 innings against the Rays, so while he’ll need a good outing, he’ll need some of his hitters to come up big against Tampa Bay, who’s pitching staff has simply dominated everyone via a 1.52 ERA over their last 19 games.
Erick Aybar was the Angel who managed to snap a 34-inning scoreless streak against Tampa Bay last night, going yard for the first time in 9 games. Someone else is going to need to step up and produce some offense tonight though, and some good options include Torii Hunter (4-for-7 against Cobb, hitting .344 in August), rookie Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who is 3-for-3 against Cobb after his only game facing him. Now is the time that Pujols needs to step up and earn his big paycheck, as while the power hitter has 6 homers and 15 RBI in August, he’s struggling along at generating hits, going .238 for the month and .208 in his last 6 games. Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo simply have to come up big tonight at the plate, and get the Angels back in gear. Without crooked numbers piling up in the early innings, Alex Cobb will be able to once again find his groove, and will likely outpitch C.J. Wilson, who has struggled to an 0-5 record with a 5.04 ERA since his last win against Baltimore all the way back on June 26th.
Betting Lines for the Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays at Betonline sportsbook.
Surprisingly enough, the betting lines for tonight’s game finds the Los Angeles Angels as strong favorites to win straight up, getting -145 odds to win behind C.J. Wilson. While Alex Cobb did lose his last start at LA, allowing the Angels to hit .308 off him, the fine run of form for the Tampa pitching staff, combined with an offense that is clicking on all cylinders has us once again leaning towards the underdog, albeit a good one tonight, taking the Rays to nab +135 odds for sports bettors with a win.
Against the spread, LA gets +140 odds to cover the -1 ½ runs set to them as favorites, meanwhile the Tampa Bay Rays get -160 odds to stay within +1 ½ runs as underdogs. We can’t imagine too many people chasing the odds on the Angels in this match-up, especially considering LA has won just once in this series this season.
For the over/under, the line is set at 8 runs, taking into consideration the strength of the Tampa Bay staff, combined with the relative inability of the LA Angels batting order to come up with runs. However, with Tampa hitting so well, and the Angels certain to break out of their hitting slump at some point, once again this should be a good opportunity to chase the over wager, which gives -110 odds today at Betonline sportsbook. Tampa can struggle against good pitching, but with C.J. Wilson struggling a bit as of late, and the Rays burning LA ace Jered Weaver for his worst start of the season just yesterday, we’ll parlay yesterday’s winnings taking Tampa Bay with the win into today’s over wager.