Many people didn’t figure on things going all that well for the Los Angeles Angels without their best hitter in the lineup, who might also be the best all-around player in baseball. And the long-term effect of that is bound to be felt, despite a pair of victories right after he was sidelined. Now, after losing on both Thursday and Friday to the Minnesota Twins, they still hope to salvage a split in the four-game set, but they have to win at Angel Stadium on Saturday night i9n this game that begins at 10:10 PM ET.
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The Twins are 28-23, and they hold a 1.5-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central. They have done their best work on the road, which is kind of unusual for a contending team. While we realize that any team that wants to win the division has to hold up its end as the visitor, Minnesota has gone way beyond the call of duty, with a 16-5 mark that is the best in the major leagues. We’ll get back to that in a few moments.
The Angels are the second-place team in the American League West, but they are under the .500 plateau at 28-30, which means they are 12.5 games behind the Houston Astros, who have all but closed things out (yes, we know it’s early). Of course, Los Angeles has to go for at least the next six weeks without Mike Trout, the two-time American League MVP, who has suffered a thumb injury and been operated on. Trout, at the time of the injury, was batting .337, and his .461 on-base percentage had him tied for the major league lead. He was also the major league #1 in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is used by a lot of analytics gurus as a very important number.
Taking the mound for the Angels on Saturday is Matt Shoemaker (4-3, 4.26 ERA), who had put together three very solid starts in a row, but had an unpleasant experience in Miami last time out. Shoemaker was a runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year a few seasons ago, but he has had some bumps in the road since.
Ervin Santana is a bona fide Cy Young Award candidate, checking in with a record of 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA. The former Angels starter as been very hard to hit in his last two outings, going the route in a two-hit complete-game shutout over the Baltimore Orioles on May 23, then following up that six days later with seven innings of five-hit ball against the Astros. He is tops in the American League with that earned run average figure.
In the baseball betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Minnesota is a short favorite on the road:
Minnesota Twins (Santana) -110
Los Angeles Angels (Shoemaker) +100
Twins -1.5 Runs +150
Angels +1.5 Runs -170
Under 8 Runs -115
Over 8 Runs -105
Shoemaker went 16-4 in 2014, in a season where he finished ahead of Dellin Bertances and Masahiro Tanaka and behind only Jose Abreu in the Rookie of the Year balloting. he was ineffective in 2015, and found himself being demoted to the minors. Last season he was better, but got hit in the head with a line drive and that ruined his campaign. he was removed after 4-2/3 innings of his last start, having allowed four runs (including two homers) to the Marlins.
Santana will give up the long ball; when he was with the Angles in 2012 he led the American League in that category. But he looks like he’s headed to his second All-Star Game, as he leads the majors in WHIP ratio (0.844) and is second in ERA only to Dallas Keuchel. Santana has given up 4.2 hits per nine innings. That’s right; FOUR-POINT-TWO. That’s a monster figure, a hit and a half better than anyone else. And what might be most impressive, especially for purposes of our discussion, is that he has allowed ONE run in 29 innings on the road, as opponents have hit .109 and slugged .141.
Are you kidding? It is MANDATORY to lay this price, as it is completely reasonable.
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