The Texas Rangers play host to the Los Angeles Angels tonight and are looking to take a 2-0 series lead on their division rivals. The Rangers took game one in a wild one last night 10-9. The Angels were powered by a four hit, four RBI night from aging slugger Albert Pujols but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers put up a ten spot, behind homers from Joey Gallo, Shin So Choo, and Carlos Gomez and a three RBI night from Elvis Andrus. It was a back and forth offensive explosion and a whole lot of fun. I expect more of the same tonight as two struggling pitchers take the mound. The Angels will start Ricky Nolasco (6-12 5.09 ERA), and the Rangers will counter with A.J. Griffin (6-5 5.26 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 PM PST from Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Los Angeles Angels (69-6) at Texas Rangers (67-67)
The Los Angeles had the best August 31st waiver trade deadline of all time. Usually, the only moves that get made during this period are salary dumps and the occasional journeyman that doesn’t want to get sent back to the minors getting a shot with a new team. Game changing moves never happen this late. Or do they? This year the Angels took advantage of the deadline in a HUGE way.
They were able to pick up Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers. In Upton, they get an in his prime slugger that will fit perfectly in the middle of that lineup. Upton was having a very strong season this year in Motown as he racked up 28 homers and 94 RBI on the season. Upton hit the ground running last night in his Angels debut as he had two hits, including a double, walked, and scored two runs as the Angels new cleanup hitter. You shouldn’t be able to get talent this good this late in the season, but somehow the Angels pulled it off.
The other key addition the Angels made was snatching Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves. Phillips brings a wealth of experience and a great glove at second base to go with his solid bat and great speed. The former multi time All-Star and Gold Glove winner is going to be a huge addition to the lineup and out on the field. Phillips made his Angels debut last night hitting in the leadoff spot and got on base twice and scored a run. Picking up a brand new leadoff hitter and a brand new cleanup hitter this late in the game is going to a massive boost to this Angels lineup and if last nights 9 run explosion is any sign of things to come you are going to want to take the Angels very seriously as we head down the stretch in the chase for the American League wild card.
The Texas Rangers were able to do what the Rangers have done all season, smash and bang themselves to a victory. They gave up 9 runs but were able to score 10 and get the win. The Rangers haven’t had the greatest pitching staff this year but boy can they slug the ball around the ball park. The Rangers are first in the majors in home runs this season and fifth in runs scored. They aren’t affair to get into a shootout. But they might be without the heart and soul of their lineup for the rest of the season as it looks like All-Star and future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre is done for the year.
Beltre suffered a hamstring pull and barring a late run into the playoffs for the Rangers, is done for the year. That is a tough blow for the Rangers as Beltre was enjoying yet another solid season this year at the plate. Beltre was hitting .315 with 16 homers, and 66 RBI, that type of production will be missed in this Rangers lineup.
Both starting pitchers in this matchup are shaky at best. Nolasco has been a little bit better over the last month, winning his last two decisions, but he is struggling to get deep into game as he hasn’t gone more than six innings in any of his six starts last month. In his last starts against Texas, he was decent. He managed only 4.2 innings as his pitch count swelled early, but he did only surrender one earned run and stuck out six in the Angels blowout victory. I expect Nolasco to get knocked around a bit in this one, but I do like the Angel’s side in this pitching matchup as I don’t think the Rangers A.J. Griffin is going to be able to hold down this newly high-powered Angels offense.
Griffin has been on a slide since missing over two months with an injury. He is 2-3 in his five starts but has gone five innings or less in four of those starts. He is 2-5 over his last seven decisions and has only thrown a hundred pitches or more in one start this season. A pitcher like this is not the type of guy you want facing a powerful offense like this Angels team is bringing tonight.
I expect this to be another fun game with lots of runs scored tonight. I just don’t know if the Rangers have the firepower to give up 9 runs again and survive. These Angels are going to batter A.J. Griffin, and I would be quite surprised to see him make it past the fifth inning tonight. That means there is going to be a lot of pressure on that Rangers bullpen that saw five pitchers get work in last nights barn burner. I like the Angels in this one as small favorites but worry about taking a run line as Nolasco is probably going to get touched up early and often as well. I expect another rock ‘em sock type of game with the Angels ending up on top. Give me the Angels at -109.
PICK: Angels -109