MLB: Angels seek revenge against Tampa Bay

MLB: Angels seek revenge against Tampa Bay

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will start working towards doing something they have already accomplished on the road this year


The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will start working towards doing something they have already accomplished on the road this year, after another highly successful road trip. Only three teams in major league baseball have a winning record on the road and the Angels have the best at 21-12. Now the goal is to play just as well at home. They'll start a 9-game homestand tonight against the surprising Tampa Rays, and 89% of early bettors dig the hosts.

The red-clad Halos have the best record in the American League and will attempt to work towards having a similar mark at the Big A in Anaheim. Motivation should be no problem for L.A., since starting exactly one month ago today, they were about to start a series in west Florida that would see them be swept and account for 25 percent of all road losses in 2008. Despite the sweep by Tampa Bay, the Angels are 13-7 the last three years against Rays including total domination near Disneyland at 8-0.

Tampa Bay is in second place in the AL East, after being swept at Boston, but did bounce back to take two of three at Texas, in spite of a dust up between yesterday's starting pitcher Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro, who had to be separated in the dugout during Sunday's 6-3 loss in Texas, minutes after an angry confrontation on the mound. Manager Joe Maddon, met with Garza after the game and explained, "It was nothing, in-house kind of stuff, things that happen on occasion and we took care of it," Maddon said. "It was shoving, that was it. It's been taken care of."

Maddon and his managing counterpart Mike Scioscia, were together on the L.A. bench for years in Anaheim and remain fast friends. A look at the stats reveals Maddon's plan for the improving Rays. Neither team is imposing offensively, Tampa Bay seventh in runs scored and the Angels 11th in the AL. The Rays are fourth in earned run average in the junior circuit and Los Angeles, sixth, thanks to more consistent bullpen. The game of baseball, having changed from the power-era to more traditional methods, has these athletic squads at one and two in fielding percentage (Angels-1st) gobbling up potential hits and preventing runs.

Though lightly regarded by scouts and even some of the Angels management, Joe Saunders (9-2, 2.63) will try to become the AL's first 10-game winner. Saunders breaking stuff is mostly average, yet as a left-hander, has the unique ability to pitch up and in to right-handed batters with low 90s fastball, keeping the left side on the Angels infield busy with mostly weak grounders. Saunders is 24-7 against the money line in night games over the last three seasons (Halos Record) and has been a stopper for Scioscia's club with 11-2 record following a loss.

After years of beating knocked around, the Rays Edwin Jackson (3-5, 3.95) has been better in 2008, with reduction of walks. Of late, that old bugaboo has returned, giving up 10 free passes in last three starts (16 innings pitched) and his ERA has been a frightening 6.19 of late. Unfortunately, this is exactly how Jackson has pitched against L.A. with 0-2 record and 6.56 ERA. When he pitches this way, it's easy to understand why Tampa Bay is 62-130 in road games.

A great deal of line movement has occurred for the series opener. The Angels opened at -133 favorites at and are now -150 money line play due in part to Saunders and teammates having 18-6 record when playing against a team with a winning record over the last three years. In the past this would suggest a real mismatch, however the Rays are 22-14 vs. AL teams scoring 4.7 or less runs a game on the season.

The total is listed at Un8 and Tampa Bay is 14-4 UNDER against left-handed starters this season and the Halos are 16-6 UNDER as a favorite of -125 to -175 this season.

This contest will start at 10:05 Eastern, with L.A. 5-12 in home games with triple revenge against opponent. The Rays will want to secure a lead before the late innings with Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez a major league best 26-1 in save opportunities.
StatFox Power Line L.A. Angels -131

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