The Texas Rangers (71-51, 37-23 home) have been comfortable at the top of the American League West for some time now, and with a 5-game cushion heading into tonight’s rubber match of a 3-game series with the Baltimore Orioles (67-56, 35-27 away), they’ll look to their powerful bats to help them maintain their grip on first place as they head into the final 40 games of the season. For the Baltimore Orioles, who sit tied for first in the Wild Card race with divisional rivals Tampa Bay, tonight’s match-up is a very important opportunity to pick up a win and stay on pace with the Rays and their top pitching rotation. With game time tonight starting just after 8:05 PM ET from the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, we’ll get set for an exciting showdown between two powerful lineups and two pitchers prone to give up the long ball, which should make for some fun wagers at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed at CR.
There is no one in Major League Baseball that gives up more home runs (29) than Baltimore’s starting pitcher tonight, Tommy Hunter (4-7, 5.49 ERA), and the fact that the Rangers Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league should have sports bettors drooling on the over wager on total runs from the get-go. When you add in Derek Holland (7-6, 4.98 ERA) to that equation as well, who has given up at least one home run in his last six starts and multiple home runs in 4 of his last 6 games pitched, well, you have the making for an obvious high scoring affair tonight in Texas. With the Rangers and Orioles both ranking in the top 5 in home runs this season, it doesn’t look good for the ERAs of either pitcher, but at least one of them is likely to wind up with their first win in a months’ time, provided they get enough run support early on. The trouble is figuring out which pitcher will have the best start tonight, considering Holland has not fared well at home (3-4, 5.60 ERA), but Hunter is even worse when on the road (1-5, 5.80 ERA), and has given up a home run in 11 straight games coming into tonight. With big runs likely coming, you’ll have to factor in each team’s bullpen, which has to favor Baltimore with a 1.57 combined ERA in its last 18 games. Save leader Jim Johnson (38) has been near flawless for the Orioles, and a win tonight would give Baltimore 5 straight road series wins.
Texas however has had a serious ownership over Baltimore as of late, with last night’s Baltimore victory just the second one in 11 games, and getting to face a former Ranger pitcher this evening, they have to be considered as a huge favorite at home. Adding to that, Derek Holland has had some success against the O’s batting order, allowing no deep balls in his last two starts against them, both wins, while giving up just three runs over 12 innings and twice getting the win. With Baltimore only going yard once in this series, a game-deciding blast yesterday by Nate McClouth, key to their success is getting at Holland and making him spot his pitches. Holland has struggled to find his locations around the plate, and the more patient the O’s hitters are this evening, the more likely they’ll see a missed spot by Holland that gives them a big opportunity. However, Holland has pitched well against the O’s power section, with Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters all hitting under .200 against him. If he can keep the ball down and avoid the big mistake to one of these hitters, Texas should have the advantage all around tonight.
For Tommy Hunter, it’s never fun to have to face your former team on the mound, especially when that team ranks 1st in the Majors in runs and batting average. Hunter has just one previous start against the Rangers, losing in a six-inning outing in which he allowed 4 runs. Josh Hamilton was the key figure in that game, going deep for a 2-run shot that helped push the Rangers to a win, but along with Hamilton, Hunter will need to look out for Adrian Beltre, who is hitting .455 against him. The Rangers as a whole are batting .297 vs. Hunter, but Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, David Murphy and Mitch Moreland are a combined 0-for-11 in their outings against him. While there hasn’t been much success yet for these guys, just one game’s worth of plate appearances isn’t quite enough to make us stoked on Hunter finding a way to get past the big Texas bats. Rather, with Holland holding the O’s to a combined .156 average, once again we see an advantage here for the Rangers from a starting pitching and hitting perspective.
Betting Lines for the Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles at Bookmaker sportsbook.
Interestingly enough, tonight’s trends for betting on the money line for this game favor the Baltimore Orioles, with big +176 odds to win as underdogs. 55 percent of wagers are taking the O’s to prevail tonight, while 45.1 percent is taking the Rangers to win with -201 odds. We’re not buying into good odds on a dog here, considering Hunter’s propensity for the deep ball, and considering Texas’ drive to earn back a win in this series to move to a season-high 22 games over .500.
Against the spread, Baltimore is getting -115 odds to cover +1 ½ runs as underdog, while Texas is favored with -1 ½ runs at -105 odds. With big-hitting offenses and struggling pitching on both sides, chances become highly likely that the spread is going to be beaten one way or another. With the Rangers at home however, and with Hunter struggling on the road, the best looking bet here has to be taking Texas to cover the runs as favorites.
For the over/under on total runs, 9 ½ will be the mark to stay under or push over. Neither game in this series so far has eclipsed 8 runs, and home runs have been few and far between, but with both teams putting out their shakiest pitchers, and both inclined to allow the big bomb, it’s just too tempting not to go with the over wager here, despite the fact that over 60 percent of wagers are taking the under side tonight due to the better odds (-105 under vs. -115 over). Don’t chase the better odds when the likelihood of a breakout in the over/under is this high, but you can play it safe with a smaller wager amount going with the over bet like we are.