Many baseball fans regard a scoring festival as the best thing that could happen in a match, but there are just as many who appreciate a top quality pitchers’ duel. This is exactly what we are expecting in Oakland as the local team faces Tampa Bay and both clubs send in players that ride long winning streaks. The stakes couldn’t be higher, because both the A’s and the Rays are trying to consolidate their position and make the playoffs by securing a wildcard.
None of the teams completely forsake the idea of winning their divisions, but with the Red Sox and Rangers flying high it is hard to believe that an opportunity will arise in the remaining months. Meanwhile, Oakland is happy to give the ball to Jarrod Parker who hasn’t lost a game in more than three months and allowed fewer than three runs per game since May. He lasted eight innings in the last three games and luckily for him relievers didn’t disappoint and protected the lead inherited from Jarrod.
The A’s are not a traditionally high-scoring team but with such a starting pitcher on the mound they won’t need a lot of runs to win the opening game against Tampa Bay. On the other hand, any runs scored early in the game will carry extra weight, because the visitors have an invincible pitcher of their own. David Price won five out of his last eight starts, in the other three games being deprived of a win simply because his teammates were awful offensively.
Predicting the winner is not an easy task, but the guys at http://data.nowgoal.com/baseball/17158.html seem to have figured it out by indicating Oakland as the victor. Another option for punters would be to wager on the number of runs scored, but then again the line is set at 6.5 which makes this particular bet a tricky one. Past performance doesn’t provide us with too many hints about what could happen tonight, because despite Parker losing to Tampa Bay, he surrendered a single run.
David Price faced Oakland six times but got a decision just three times and recent results are a bit worrisome. Los Angeles Angels made short work of the Rays yesterday with Tampa going 0-8 with runners in scoring position and went down by two runs to none. Their away from home record is equally disappointing, as the Rays lost 7/9 and have a losing record at the Coliseum.
At the end of July, St. Louis lost 4/5 games against Pittsburgh and the lead in the Central division after being outshot 22-7 in the first four games. They salvaged one victory in the final game of the series and scored a massive 13 points to avoid the sweep, but that still caused them to fall into second place. Now they try to return the favor at Busch Stadium with a sweep of their own that will enable them to tie the Pirates with 70 victories.
Cincinnati is just one point behind them and it is very likely that the central division will be the one to award the wildcard, which means that there is no room for error. St. Louis will send Adam Wainwright for the opening game hoping that their best starting pitcher can give them the upper hand against Pittsburgh. He’s the only one in their rotation to have won 13 games and his ERA of 2.66 is one of the best in the National League, but he didn’t fare well against the Pirates.
Adam conceded an average of five fronts per game in his starts versus Pittsburgh and not even home pitch advantage helped him last more than six innings. The only good news ahead of this feature is that the Pirates lost three games in a row and scored just seven runs in Colorado. The Rockies are hardly the best team in their division and even though Coors Field is a hitter friendly stadium, the visitors were unable to take advantage. If they perform in the same manner against the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright might improve his earned run average against him and add the 14th victory.
He will be opposed by an equally talented starting pitcher, as the visitors give the ball to Charlie Morton who managed to keep his ERA at 3.88. Even though the two players are separated by more than one point, they both require minimal runs of support and can pull out amazing victories. Charlie has his own issues against St. Louis and lost all three recent starts against them, but the main reason of concern is the fact that his teammates are not doing particularly well offensively.
All in all this promises to be an intense battle between the starting pitchers with Adam Wainwright being favorite to prevail, but he can’t single-handedly defeat the Pirates. In order to win, the Cardinals will need to have him on the mound for at least six innings, because the bullpen is shaky and causes them to lose many points lately. Punters are surely disappointed by the fact that the odds for a home victory stand at a puny 1.60 so they have to decide between two equally unappealing alternatives.
One would be to back St. Louis to cover the spread of 1.5 runs with odds exceeding even the value, while the second being the trust Charlie Morton and the Pittsburgh. The advantage for this bet is that the odds revolve around the value of 2.60 which makes the Pirates clearly overpriced. The difference between the two teams is minimal and although Adam Wainwright has a slight edge over Morton, things could go either way and these odds are worth the coin flip.
Boston has the best record in baseball and it has every intention to consolidate its lead over the New York Yankees. So far they did everything that needed to be done to stay at the top of the division and they’ve achieved something similar to what Oakland accomplished a couple of weeks ago. Back then they were tied for the lead with the Rangers and managed to break free by winning the series against them. More on that matter at http://www.jackhammerbaseball.com/oaklands-best-chance-to-consolidate-lead/.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to finish off the Mariners at home, in the final game of the series after winning both encounters and scoring 13 runs while conceding six. At the first glance it might look like Boston is going to cruise to an easy victory, but there is one man standing behind them and a well-deserved sweep. Felix Hernandez is Seattle’s best and only hope this year and with 11 victories and just four defeats, he is beyond doubt the best starting pitcher in their rotation.
His ERA of 2.34 is almost twice as good as Ryan Dempster’s who will be opposing him tonight but even so, Felix remains vulnerable. The reason for why the bookmakers those credit him with the first chance to add another victory to his impressive record is that the Mariners are struggling to score runs. Both away and at home, Seattle scores just a handful of points and unless the starting pitcher lasts at least six innings, the team loses in the final minutes.
Although some progress has been made in improving the bullpen and relievers now defend the hard earned gains more effectively, there is still plenty of work to be done. Ryan Dempster doesn’t have to worry about his earned run average, at least that’s the feeling we get after seeing that he conceded on average six runs per game, still he earned his winning decisions. The Red Sox were tremendous at bat recently and Ryan was the main beneficiary, but he shouldn’t rely exclusively on his offensive teammates.
This has all the ingredients to turn into a highly contested game and although it is not a pitcher’s duel, Felix is pretty much on his own while Dempster can rely on his opponents. Even so, there are very few reasons in favor of backing Boston, except maybe the fact that they have the best home record in the American League. Savvy punters will probably go against the odds and wager on the underdog to emerge victorious, as Seattle is valued at even odds by most bookmakers.