Rays vs. Angels MLB Preview and Best Bet

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Tampa Bay Rays Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

It was hoped the Los Angeles Angels might end a 6-year playoff drought this season, but the playoffs are far from the primary concern as they turn their attention to simply not being swept at home by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday’s MLB betting schedule.

Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels

Thursday, May 6, 2021 – 9:38 P.M. EDT at Angel Stadium

Tampa Bay can pull off the 4-game broom job in Anaheim after taking the first three contests from the Angels this week. The Rays opened with 7-3 and 8-3 decisions in the first two games before a 3-1 triumph on Wednesday. The wins leave Tampa Bay knotted with the New York Yankees in second place of the AL East, while the defeats have the Angels bringing up the rear of the AL West.

Angel Stadium has become a favorite away venue for the Rays who have won 10 of their last 13 on the diamond. Games 1 and 2 went past the scoreboard targets before the ‘under’ winner on Wednesday, totals now running 6-3-1 O/U/P the last 10 matchups in Anaheim.

Late Mound Plans Keep Odds Off the Overnight Board

Angels skipper Joe Maddon’s hopes are to avoid being swept by his former club, and will send Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.25) to the bump in the finale. Tampa Bay turns to Collin McHugh (0-1, 10.13) for its opener, and is expected to bring on Josh Fleming (1-3, 2.18) shortly thereafter. The late decision by the Rays on their pitching plans kept online betting sites from releasing odds on their overnight boards.

McHugh is coming off the injured list to make his first start in nearly two years. The righthander was sidelined with a back issue, and was knocked around by the Yankees and Marlins in a couple of appearances before being shelved. Two innings or 25-30 pitches is all we should expect from him this evening. Fleming has worked in both a true starting role and as the bulk reliever for manager Kevin Cash this season, and has run into some tough luck along the way with three losses in his four appearances despite a nifty little 2.18 ERA. The Missouri native fulfilled both roles last season when he made five starts and two bulk appearances, plus two more long relief outings during the postseason for Tampa Bay.

A 5th-round pick by the Rays in 2017, control issues led to his demise last Saturday at home against Houston. Fleming and the Rays were small underdogs on the MLB odds board, and the 24-year-old walked five and struggled through a 3-run first, the only plate crossings the Astros needed in a 3-1 final. This will be the first time he has faced the Angels.

Trout’s Average Dips Below .400

Mike Trout, generally regarded as the game’s top player, might deserve better than what he’s gotten with the Angels, but he sure isn’t pouting about the situation. After hitting .425 in April, Trout saw his average drop just below the .400 mark with an 0-for-2 on Wednesday, and has raked with regularity against McHugh over the years (8-24, 3 HR). Seattle hitters feasted on Heaney last Friday at T-Mobile Park. Closing as -155 chalk at Bet365, Heaney served up three homers and allowed four runs before heading to the showers one out into the fourth inning. It ended a string of three consecutive strong outings for the Oklahoman, who had not given up a home run since getting bombed by the Chicago white Sox in his season debut.

Heaney last faced the Rays in 2019, and stands 0-3 with a 4.87 ERA across four career starts against Tampa Bay. Mike Zunino has the most experience against Heaney, batting .143 (2-14) and belting one homer in their encounters. Willy Adames and Austin Meadows are a combined 5-11 (.455), and have each taken Heaney deep.

Umpire Notes, Big A Forecast & A Free Pick

Crew chief Brian Gorman will complete one full turn through the umpire rotation by calling balls and strikes in the series finale. After opting out of the 2020 season, this is Gorman’s seventh plate assignment of the season, and he’s been a good friend to ‘over’ bettors with five of the previous six going past the marks. Five of his last six games at the Anaheim dish have also exceeded the totals.

A clear and cool evening is what the weatherman is calling for on Thursday. First pitch should find the thermometer around 65°, and the forecast also calls for an 8-12 mph breeze out of the south-southwest (out to left-center). I’m looking at 8½ for the total once the numbers come out, and will play it ‘over’ with my free MLB pick.

MLB Pick: Over 8½ (-105) at Bovada