We expected to see the Angels
playing meaningful series the entire season, but not the Orioles. Yet here we are in the final week of June, and
it is the O's with the better recordas the two playoff
hopefuls square-off at Camden Yards for a crucial 3-game series.
Each team is second in their respective division and just
1.5 games apart in the current AL
wild card hunt. Each team will also
entrust their current status in a southpaw for Game 1 of the series as LA's C.J.
Wilson throws against Baltimore's
The MLB odds makers opened with the Angels in the -160 to -170
range while the early total varied between 8.5 and 9 runs. Early support for the O's has driven the
moneyline down a bit to what we'll call a consensus -150 on the Halos, and the
total settled in at 8.5.
The Angels and the Yankees started the week as the hottest
clubs going over their last 30 games, each winning 22 in that span. Even with
that strong push for the Halos, they had only made up three games on the Texas
Rangers who have been on top of the AL West all season.
A big part of the turnaround has been the pitching of CJ
Wilson who enters with the third-lowest ERA in the American League (2.44) and
having pitched the Angels to six consecutive triumphs. He was not in shut-down mode against the
Giants in his last start, yielding five runs (3 earned) on 10 hits in his 6.1
innings, and his control was a little shaky just before that when he walked
five Dodgers on June 13 in Los Angeles. But the results were there as the Halos still posted the dubya each
did not see his turn come up with the clubs met at the Big A back in April. He started three games against Baltimore
while a member of the Rangers, losing both of the outings in Texas while
getting knocked around (combined 7.1 IP, 11 ER) and coming within an out of a
complete game shutout in his only career assignment at Camden Yards in 2010.
Baltimore is just 14-16 its last 30 opportunities, and
prevailing wisdom is more about when, not if, Buck Showalter's team will fizzle
out. The Orioles have been entirely
dependent upon Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen in the rotation, and they'll need
someone like a Matusz or Jake Arrieta or Tommy Hunter to contribute if Baltimore is going to
hang around much longer.
The O's are 6-8 with Matusz on the mound, dropping each of
his last three assignments during which he has worked 12.1 innings, surrendered
12 runs (11 earned) and issued 10 walks while striking out nine. It is a very similar stretch that Matusz
started the year with when he lost his first three outings while giving up 13
earned runs in 14.2 innings.
One of those early defeats came against the Angels in Anaheim on April 20 (5 IP,
4 ER), leaving Matusz and the Orioles 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA in his four career
starts vs. the Halos.
Two of the three games played in Anaheim
back in April stayed UNDER the total, but three of the last four played in Baltimore last season
went above the number. The clubs split
the six played at Camden Yards in 2011.
Taking a Chance: Tuesday
will be Albert Pujols' first game at Oriole
Park, and I'm expecting a
big series from the Angels first baseman. I am also expecting Wilson
to continue his current form to help LA into the winner's circle. My pick is Angels -150.
Check back on
Wednesday when we preview the series finale in Texas between the Rangers and Tigers.