The Los Angeles Angels are in Oakland tonight looking for the sweep in game three of the three game series with the Athletics. This series has been action packed with lots of drama and runs scored. The Angels took game one 11-9 in extra innings and set a new American League record by using 12 pitchers in the win. Game two saw another dramatic win for the Angels as they took it 8-7 on a Ben Revere single in the tenth inning. Today’s matchup will feature two pitchers that are both struggling at the moment, and I expect the fireworks to continue today in game three. The Angels will send Tyler Skaggs (1-4 4.89 ERA) to the mound to face off against the Athletics Sean Manaea (9-9 4.52 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 PM PST from Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Los Angeles Angels (72-67) at Oakland Athletics (58-80)
The Los Angeles Angels were able to stock pile talent at the August 31st waiver trade deadline. They added slugger Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers and leadoff hitter Brandon Philips from the Atlanta Braves. It was a huge addition that has turned the Angels from fringe contenders to my pic to win one of the American League wild card spots. Since making the deal, the Angels have scored 41 runs in five games, over eight runs a game. If they can keep this pace up, they are going to be very tough to beat down the stretch.
Entering play today, the Angels find themselves occupying the second of the two American League wild card spots, holding a slight .5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins. It wasn’t long ago that the Angels were well down the standings and looking to next year. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia managed to keep his team just close enough to the pack to stay in the hunt. Then Mike Trout got healthy, and they were able to pick up Philips and Upton, now they are in a position to make the playoffs. It was some great managing by the long tenured Scioscia, and he is my pick for manager of the year in the American League for the job he has done. The Angels will start Tyler Skaggs tonight in game three, looking for the sweep.
Tyler Skaggs missed all of May, June, and July and has not been sharp upon returning to the team. Skaggs is 0-3 with an ERA over five since returning from the DL, and in his last start against the Texas Rangers, he got rocked to the tune of six runs in just two innings of work. He faced this A’s team in his first start returning from injury on August 5th and gave up three earned runs in four innings on a tight pitch count in an Angels loss. There isn’t anything that is telling me Skaggs will be any better today against Oakland as he just hasn’t found his groove yet and has been a big liability for the Angels as they make a run for the playoffs. His counterpart for Oakland, Sean Manaea, has a similar story.
Manaea was on the worst run of his short career going into his last start. He was 1-3 in August with an ERA close to ten. He had three consecutive starts where he didn’t make it past the fourth inning. He was by no means lights out in his last performance, going 6.2 innings and allowing three earned runs in a loss to the Seattle Mariners, but at least he didn’t get run off the field. I don’t know how Manea is going to be able to shut down this mashing lineup today in game three, they are hot and pounding the ball right now.
I want to take the Angels here. They are the much better team, and they are playing well at the moment. The Athletics have lost eight straight games, and their bullpen has been abused in this series. But these A’s, even though they are losing a lot are still fighting and competing to win games, showcased by the last two games that went into extra innings and a couple of tight losses to Seattle in their last series. They are struggling, but they aren’t rolling over and playing dead. The Angels are clearly the side to take if you are going to bet the game, but the safer pick seems to be the over. Both of these teams pitching staffs have been blown out in this series, the Angels even broke a record for bullpen use in game one! Coupled with the fact that the Angels have been straight mashing since picking up Philips and Upton, I don’t see how this could possibly be a low scoring game. The safe bet here is to lay a little extra juice and take the over of 9.5. The Angels will probably win and aren’t that big of favorites either, but I just don’t trust Skaggs enough to back the Angels in this one. Give me the over in game three today from Oakland.
PICK: Over 9.5 runs at -115