Angels at Rangers Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/5/2013
Josh Hamilton will go down as one of the greatest Texas Rangers of all time, no doubt about it. He was also incredibly popular there for the vast majority of his career, thanks in part to having overcome some personal addiction demons. However, things fell apart late last season for Hamilton, and it probably ensured he wouldn't re-sign with the team as a free agent this offseason.
The Rangers looked like the best team in the American League, if not baseball, for much of last season. They led the AL West by six games with nine to play yet collapsed down the stretch to hand the division to Oakland in the season's final game. In the regular-season-ending 12-5 loss to Oakland, Hamilton dropped what looked like a routine fly ball in center field. It was the fourth inning and the score was 5-5. Hamilton came in to catch a fly off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes but overran it. The ball glanced off Hamilton's glove and got behind him, allowing the A's to go up 7-5 on the way to the victory.
That loss sent Texas to the winner-take-all wild-card game in Arlington against the Orioles. In that 5-1 loss, Hamilton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, seeing all of eight total pitches. He struck out both times on three pitches and swung at the first pitch in his other two at-bats, also grounding into a double play. The former AL MVP heard boo-birds after striking out in his final at-bat.
The Rangers didn't really make a concerted effort to bring Hamilton back this offseason, believing they deserved a home-town discount for reviving Hamilton's career and taking such good care of him and his battles with drugs and alcohol. Apparently Hamilton disagreed and the Angels surprised many by swooping in with a five-year, $125 million deal.
Hamilton never gave the Rangers a chance to match the deal, which Texas GM Jon Daniels made very clear publicly. That alone likely POed Rangers fans, but then the five-time all-star stuck his foot in his mouth in February, essentially saying that Dallas was not a "true baseball town" (in fairness, he said it has always been a football town, which is true) and that the fans had become spoiled.
Needless to say, Hamilton should not expect a warm welcome when he returns to Texas with the Angels in the opener of a three-game series on Friday afternoon. It should be good theater, similar to when Alex Rodriguez returned to Seattle for the first time after leaving the Mariners.
Angels at Rangers Betting Story Lines
It's a tortuous beginning for the Angels as they enter this one off a three-game trip to National League contender Cincinnati in the season's first interleague series that concluded Thursday afternoon (remember, there will always be an interleague series now with 15 teams in each league). Thus, the Halos get to use the designated hitter for the first time this year starting Friday. Mark Trumbo will serve as L.A's DH most games; he has been playing left field in the opening series. Mike Trout will slide to left field with the DH in play, and Peter Bourjos will play center. Hamilton stays in right.
Trout had a season for the ages in 2012 but struggled some at the end of the season, perhaps hitting a rookie wall. He hasn't been good in the Halos' first two games, either, striking out four times with just two hits in 11 at-bats. Hamilton had a good spring but hadn't gotten a hit through L.A.'s first two games and had struck out three times. Albert Pujols also was hitless the first two games.
The Halos are without projected closer Ryan Madson until at least early May because of soreness in his surgically-repaired elbow that sidelined Madson all of last year. Ernesto Frieri will close until (if) Madson is ready, and he got the save in Monday's season-opening win over the Reds.
The Rangers have been off since Wednesday, when they beat Houston 4-0 to take two of three in that series. That series was notable for Tuesday's 7-0 Rangers win as Yu Darvish had a perfect game for 8.2 innings and struck out 14 in one of the most dominant pitching performances you will ever see. He's set to pitch the series finale on “Sunday Night Baseball” against fellow Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. Rangers pitchers struck out 43 Astros overall, breaking the MLB record for a staff in the first three games of a season. It was 42, set by the 1966 Cleveland Indians. The Rangers are the first team since 1920 to allow no runs and strike out at least 15 hitters in consecutive games. They had a strikeout in 25 of the 26 innings vs. Houston (Astros didn't bat in bottom of ninth in Sunday's season-opening win). Let's remember that the Astros essentially have a Triple-A lineup.
Texas signed Lance Berkman to a one-year deal to help replace Hamilton's bat, and Berkman was 6-for-10 with three RBI and three walks against his former Astros team. Nelson Cruz also had a good series, going 6-for-12 with three RBI. Possibly the biggest question in the Texas lineup is at first base as Mitch Moreland tries to prove he's worthy of manning the position full-time. He was hitless against the Astros.
The starters for Friday's game are Angels lefty Jason Vargas against Texas left-hander Derek Holland. Vargas, acquired from Seattle in the Kendrys Morales trade, was 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA for the Mariners last season but was terrible this spring. He was 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA against Texas in 2012. Holland, a member of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, had a 7.00 ERA last season in four games against the Halos.
Angels at Rangers MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Rangers have been opened at -120, the Angels +110 and the total at 10 (only double-digit AL game). L.A. won its final six Friday games last season. The Angels are 12-3 in their last 15 road games vs. a left-handed starter. The Rangers are 11-5 in their past 16 against lefty starters. They are 1-4 in their past five Friday games and 1-5 in their past six series openers. Texas is 8-2 in Holland's past 10 starts. The “over” is 8-1-2 in the Angels' past 11. The over is 6-1 in L.A.'s past seven series openers. The over is 6-1-1 in the Rangers' past eight series openers. The over is 5-2-2 in Holland's past nine starts. The over is 12-2 in the past 14 meetings in Texas.
Angels at Rangers Picks and Betting Predictions
My one worry about Holland is that Pujols, Trout and Trumbo all have hit him well in their careers, each homering twice. But Vargas had a 7.54 ERA in the Cactus League, and this game likely will mean a lot to the Rangers (and their fans) to stick it to Hamilton. I actually think Hamilton will be too amped up at first to have a good game, and he always has had trouble in day games (he says because of his blue eyes). Obviously, he hasn't faced Holland in game conditions. Both offenses should rake here. You won't get the Halos as dogs very often, but I like Texas and the over. The Rangers are 10-9 in home openers at the Ballpark in Arlington.
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