The Los Angeles Angels continue their Eastern trip hoping to end a slump when they open a two-game Interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds Monday. The Angels won the first two matchups between these two teams this season, both by identical 5-1 scores, back in June.
Los Angeles has lost four straight, including a three-game sweep by the host Cleveland Indians over the weekend, to drop to fourth place in the American League West, 17 games behind first-place Houston. The Angels have also fallen nine games off the pace in the race for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Cincinnati has a little more hope when it comes to the postseason, despite a fourth-place standing in the National League Central. The Reds are 7.5 games behind first-place Chicago in the division title chase and 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
There has yet to be a moneyline or over/under established for this contest.
The Angels will send left-hander Patrick Sandoval to the mound for the opener. It is Sandoval’s major-league debut after he went 4-4 with a 6.41 ERA in 15 starts with the Angels’ Triple-A club this season. Los Angeles has been having trouble with injuries to starters recently, so Sandoval gets his opportunity perhaps a little earlier than the club would have preferred.
Los Angeles has dropped eight of its last 10 games and has averaged 3.9 runs over that span, including a grand total of eight runs over their current four-game losing streak. Outfielder Mike Trout is obviously the best offensive threat the Angels have, ranking first in the American League in home runs (36), RBI (87), walks (85) and slugging percentage (.659). But the All-Star needs some help, and he hasn’t been getting it. Kole Calhoun has 25 home runs and 59 RBI, but he has hit just .190 over the last week, though two of his four hits have been solo home runs.
Looking For A Surge
Cincinnati made a big move at the trading deadline, acquiring Trevor Bauer and dealing away Yasiel Puig. They’ve shown some fight since that move, splitting a road series with Atlanta over the weekend, but they need to piece together some wins in a hurry to have a real chance at the postseason. Cincinnati will send All-Star Luis Castillo to the mound for this contest. Castillo is 10-4 with a 2.63 ERA this season, having won three of his last four decisions. He’s coming off a seven-inning outing against Pittsburgh in which he allowed just one run on six hits while striking out seven and walking none.
The Reds’ offense is led by third baseman Eugenio Suarez, whose 29 home runs, 71 RBI and 104 hits all pace the team. Cincinnati could use a resurgence from 35-year-old Joey Votto, and he’s been getting hot of late, hitting .308 with two home runs and six RBI over the last week. On the season, Votto is batting .261 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI, well off his usual pace, but if he can get hot, he could be a key piece to Cincinnati.
Reds Win Opener
The Angels’ rotation is a mess, and Sandoval probably isn’t ready for the call-up he received. Cincinnati has been playing better of late and will be at home for this one, with an All-Star pitcher on the mound. All signs point to a Reds win, and I’m taking Cincinnati to win the opener of the series.