AL West Showdown: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics

There’s a three-horse race in the American League West as the Major League Baseball season takes a turn for the home stretch, and tonight’s clash between West Coast rivals the Los Angeles Angels (59-51, 29-29 away) and the Oakland Athletics (58-51, 32-26 home) is an excellent match-up pairing two of the teams deeply entrenched in the AL Wild Card race, with eyes on possibly stealing the division title before year’s end. For online sports betting tonight, this is certainly one match-up to keep a look out for at one of the top reviewed online sportsbooks found right here at CR. Get ready for a solid pitching duel, and a heated match-up in a storied California rivalry playing out in Game 2 tonight from Coliseum in Oakland, CA starting at 10:05 PM ET.

The Oakland Athletics come into this match-up fresh off getting shut out by Jered Weaver last night, who picked up his Major League-leading 15th win while handing Oakland a third straight loss. Generating offensive production has continued to be an issue for the A’s, who have failed to score more than 5 runs in a game in the last 9 contests. Therefore, the pressure continues to remain on the starting rotation and the A’s bullpen, who so far in the second half have been carrying the team on their backs. Tonight’s starter for the A’s, Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.55 ERA) certainly knows that runs will be hard to come by as his Oakland team goes up against C.J. Wilson (9-7, 3.27 ERA) who comes off a rough start in his last outing, but has otherwise been solid all season long for the Angels and especially tough against the A’s. In two starts so far in 2012, Wilson has a 1.93 ERA with a 1-1 record. He’s allowed 3 earned runs on just 4 hits, with Oakland batting .064 against him, the lowest batting average for the A’s against any pitcher this season.

Fortunately for the veteran Colon, he’s been quite successful against the Angels as well, giving up just 4 runs in 14 2/3 innings of work, posting a 2.45 ERA while going 1-1 in two starts this season. However, Wilson may have the edge via his better form on the road (3.38 ERA, 6-3, .215 opponent average) in comparison to Colon’s home stats (4.14 ERA, 3-6, .267 opponent average). One thing to consider here though is the recent form for both pitchers; Bartolo Colon has two straight starts with no earned runs, and the A’s have won games in 7 out of his last 9 starts. For Wilson, he comes off his worst performance of the season, getting shelled by his former Texas Rangers team to the tune of 8 runs in 5 1/3 innings. Wilson hasn’t earned a win since June 26th, and the Angels have lost 5 out of the last 6 games in which he’s started. The good sign here is that Wilson will have confidence pitching in Oakland, where he was magnificent in a 5-0 win where he threw 8 innings of scoreless ball allowing just 1 hit.

At the plate tonight, the man to watch is AL-batting average leader Mike Trout, who comes in at .348 for the season with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs (not to mention an MLB-best 36 steals). Last night Trout contributed a 2-for-3 performance with 3 stolen bases and an RBI, perfectly indicative of how versatile this young player is. Trout also has seen Colon very well so far this year, going 3-for-4 against him with a solo home run, so look out for him being a contributing factor for the Halos once again in Game 2. Also a major factor tonight could be Albert Pujols, who just snapped a 7-game hitting streak last night, but is 5-for-9 in his career against Colon, and is hitting .344 with 6 home runs and 11 RBIs in the past week. It’s usually right towards the 50 remaining games mark that Pujols completely blows up with astonishing numbers, and with 6 multi-hit games in a row over the past week, don’t be surprised to see King Albert send one over the fences in this favorable match-up for him.

For the A’s, just getting any production tonight would be a step in the right direction after getting just 4 hits last night. Brandon Inge, 2-for-3 last night, will likely be a factor for Oakland with the way he’s been hitting lately. Having just snapped a 13-game hitting streak over the weekend, he’s now 4-for-7 in his last two games, and has shown some pop at the plate with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs on the year now. It’s still yet to be seen whether Cuban star Yoenis Cespides will suit up tonight, after missing Monday’s game with what is described as ‘wrist discomfort’. Batting .306 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs, there is no question the A’s could use him back in the lineup as soon as possible, to avoid slipping to a 7th loss in the last 10 games. Making up for some lost power could be Josh Reddick, who has 24 home runs on the season, and has hit two in the past week. Like the rest of the A’s who have struggled against C.J. Wilson (the entire team is batting .144 against him lifetime), Reddick will have to shake a dismal average against him (0-for-5), but if there’s any time to do it, it’s in this critical game that could very well turn Oakland around, or send them deeper into a tailspin.

Betting Lines for the Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics at Oddsmaker Sportsbook.

The Oakland A’s at home come in as tonight’s underdogs, even despite C.J. Wilson’s struggles with getting his team a victory when he’s pitching. Oakland is a +128 underdog to win straight up on the money line, whereas the visiting Angels, 4-0 winners last night, will get -138 odds to win behind Wilson. Oakland and Los Angeles has so far split their series this season at 5 games apiece, giving tonight’s match-up a nice tiebreaker scenario to add a little excitement.

Against the spread, the favored Angels will have to cover -1.5 runs to earn +125 odds for spread pickers. Los Angeles covered the spread last night, and when winning games after the All-Star break (11-13), they’ve covered the spread 10 times. With the way Oakland isn’t hitting right now, and the way Wilson has pitched against them, a spread pick on the Angels might be a favorable pickup for your betting ticket today. For Oakland on the other hand though, it’ll be a stretch backing them to stay within +1.5 runs at -145 odds, considering their woes at the plate lately.

For the final betting line on this game, we look at the total runs line, which has the over/under set at 7. After the 4-0 shutout by Jered Weaver last night, and the inability of the A’s to hit anything sent their way, look out for a low number of runs on the A’s side, which may factor into the total runs staying under. The only thing we’re cautious about is whether or not the Angels decide to tag Bartolo Colon for a couple of long balls, which could easily push the over/under to the over side this evening.

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