The Minnesota Twins will take their first-place record on the road with them tonight as they continue their west coast road trip in Los Angeles, for game one of a three-game series with the Angels. The Twins have not lost a series since dropping two out of three on the road against the New York Yankees to open the month and had won five straight games before dropping the series finale to the Mariners last night.
For the Angels, they are trying to stay in contention in the American League West Division, where they find themselves tied for second place with the Texas Rangers, eight and a half games back of the streaking Houston Astros. The Angels have lost three out of their last five games, including dropping two out of three in Minnesota last week against these very same Twins.
Starting tonight for the Twins is Jake Odorizzi (6-2 2.63 ERA), and for the Angels it is opener Taylor Cole (0-0 4.91 ERA) that is expected to give way to Felix Pena (2-1 3.49 ERA) after an inning or two of work. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. The Angels are -122 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM PST from Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Are the Minnesota Twins for real? That is the question on just about every baseball fans mind as the Twins just keep on winning. Coming into the season, the expectations were fairly light for the Twins as most expected the Cleveland Indians to dominate the AL Central this year. But it has been the Twins that have impressed, as they have built a four and a half game lead over Cleveland in what is shaping up to be a two-horse race.
Minnesota is getting the job done on both sides of the plate as their offense has proven to be quite prolific, and their pitching staff has been more than respectable as well. The Twins lead the majors in runs scored and are second in batting average, slugging percentage, and home runs. This team can downright hit the baseball. Not to be outdone, the Twins pitching staff ranks in the top ten in both ERA and WHIP. They can beat you in multiple ways.
Minnesota will send what is their hottest pitcher to the mound tonight in the form of Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi has really dazzled so far this season as his ERA is amongst the best in the league and the Twins have won his last six starts. He had a streak of twenty-two consecutive innings without giving up a run before giving up three runs in his last start. He has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his starts this season.
The Angels will counter with one of their better arms, Felix Pena. As I mentioned above, the Angels will go with an opener, Taylor Cole, in this game before turning things over to Pena. Cole got hammered in his last outing, giving up three earned runs while recording just a single out. But he does throw heat and can really rack up the Ks. It is a bit surprising to see the Angels use Cole in the opener role as most teams would use a talent like Cole later in the game, rather than early.
Pena has shown some flashes of being very good at times in his three-year career. He started out working out of the bullpen, then was converted to a starter, and now is being used in this hybrid role tonight. He isn’t the type of guy that is going to go out and get you a bunch of innings, in fact, he has pitched five innings or fewer in all but one of his eight appearances this year. But he does have decent stuff. In his last outing, he pitched five innings against the Angels, allowed three runs on five hits, and got a no-decision as the Angels lost the game.
This is an interesting game. The Twins are in the midst of an always tough west coast road trip and could look tired after traveling from Seattle after yesterday’s game. But to see Minnesota as underdogs is pretty surprising. This Twins team is one win short of having the best record in all of baseball, and the Angels have a losing record.
Yeah, the Angels have certainly been better at home this year than they have been on the road, but when you look at Minnesota, this Twins team is a true road warrior. The Twins lead the major leagues with fifteen road wins on the year. So, if all that is pushing this line towards the Angels is the fact that the game is in LA, I am thinking I want to look to fade the Angels.
The starting pitching matchup seems to be leaning strongly in our favor as Odorizzi is enjoying the best season of his career. While Pena is struggling to stay consistent and isn’t getting deep into games. Odorizzi has pitched into the sixth inning or deeper in seven out of his nine starts. And if it weren’t for one really rough outing against the Philadelphia Phillies, Odorizzi would be leading the AL in ERA.
Getting a chance to back what just might be the best team in the AL, yeah the Astros and Yankees are heating up, but you can’t deny how good the Twins have been to start the season, as underdogs is just too much value for me to pass up on today. So, I will take a flyer on yet another underdog, and feel like I am on the right side. Give me the Minnesota Twins as road underdogs tonight in game one at +112!