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Rays at Angels – Free Pick August 16th

Tampa Bay Rays -116 at Los Angeles Angels +109

David Price vs. Dan Haren

What better way to try to bounce back from being the victim of the 23rd perfect game in major league history than to send your very own Cy Young candidate, David Price, to the mound in the series opener.  That’s exactly what the Rays will do tonight as they try to shake off yesterday’s dominance at the hands of Seattle’s Felix Hernandez.

But before we break down tonight’s game, the baseball postseason landscape underwent a huge shuft yesterday, and it had nothing to do with injury or on-field performance.  Instead, it was the familiar refrain of “performance enhancement” and the latest culprit was All-Star Game MVP, the San Francisco Giant’s Melky Cabrera.  It’s just another blackeye for MLB, though another non-stunner when a 28-year old average player (around a .265 hitter) before last season’s .303 and this season’s brilliant .340+ average most of the year.  Cabrera will miss 50 games, and because of it, don’t be surprised if the Giants miss the playoffs.

Back to real baseball….

The Rays have owned the Angels so far in 2012, taking five of six games, and have won eight of nine dating back to last season.  They enter tonight’s game, last night’s no-hitter notwithstanding, playing great baseball.  They’ve won six of seven since the return of Evan Longoria and have been averaging close to five runs a contest.  Tonight they face a stiff lineup in the Angels, but not one of their dominant pitchers.

Dan Haren has been somewhat of a disappointment in 2012.  Many felt (and still cling to hope) that he would be the third ace, along with CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver, giving the Halos a dominant pitching staff to go with their fearsome lineup.  It hasn’t quite worked out that way so far.  Hren is just 8-9 with a 4.68 ERA.  His team is just 8-13 in games he has pitched.

That isn’t a good recipe going into a game where runs might be at a premium.  David Price is the major’s co-leader in wins with 15 and posts a terrific 2.50 ERA.  His last three starts he has gone 22 innings and allowed just four runs and posted a WHIP of 0.86.  I expect him to keep the Angels lineup in check and allow for three or four runs in support to be enough to get the job done.

I like the Rays to bounce back tonight and to take the first game in a very important series for wildcard positioning.

Free Pick:  Tampa Bay Rays to WIN -116