I was apprehensive to do a White Sox series preview this week considering I am 0-for-2 on Chicago series in 2012 – I picked against the Pale Hose in both of their series with the Texas Rangers and Chicago took care of business in both. So let’s try again against another AL West contender, the Oakland A’s. This series could have definite wild-card implications.
The White Sox enter having lost two of three at home to Kansas City and managing just seven total runs in the process. This is a big series for Chicago because the Tigers are surging in the AL Central, and after this set the White Sox have only six more home games until Sept. 3 – and one of those home series comes against the powerful (if suddenly struggling) Yankees.
The A’s were the best team in the American League in July with the best month in franchise history. They have slowed a bit in August with a 4-4 record, but they enter having taken two of three at home in a potentially crucial series vs. the L.A. Angels. This begins a 12-game stretch against AL Central teams for Oakland, with the first two series on the road. And the A’s don’t face the Tigers among those 12 games, so it’s a chance to perhaps beat up on the Indians, Royals and Twins (after the White Sox) and really make a move in the wild-card standings.
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There is a key injury to note. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko almost assuredly will miss the series. He missed Wednesday’s game vs. Kansas City after suffering a mild concussion Tuesday when he was struck on the right side of his head by baserunner Jarrod Dyson. Konerko is batting .316 with 18 homers and 54 RBI but is currently in a 4-for-29 slump.
Also sitting out Wednesday was Sox outfielder Alex Rios with lower back stiffness, but he should be fine after Thursday’s day off. Outfielder Alejandro De Aza (back stiffness) and third baseman Kevin Youkilis (sore right knee) returned to the lineup Wednesday and both should be okay for this series.
This is the final regular-season series between Oakland and Chicago. The A’s took two of three at home against the White Sox from April 23-25. Each game featured terrific pitching. Two were shutouts and went “under” the total. The finale went “over” the total but only because it finished 5-4 in 14 innings and the game was tied 2-2 at the end of nine.
A’s at White Sox Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: A’s RHP Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 2.54) vs. White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.43) – McCarthy, a former top White Sox prospect, will return from the disabled list (shoulder soreness) and make his first start since June 19. McCarthy, the team’s Opening Day starter, will be limited to 80-90 pitches after making two rehab starts. Prior to his DL stint, McCarthy had allowed more than two earned runs just once in his past eight starts. Floyd had his worst start since mid-June last time out, allowing five runs and eight hits in 6.1 innings of a no-decision vs. the Angels. He faced Oakland on April 24 and took the loss despite allowing just one run and two hits in 7.1 innings.
Saturday: A’s LHP Tommy Milone (9-9, 3.91) vs. White Sox LHP Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.03): Milone was one of Oakland’s biggest surprises but has been knocked around his past three starts, allowing at least five runs in all three and losing all of them. Arguably his best start of the season came April 24 vs. the Sox, as Milone blanked Chicago on three hits over eight innings. Liriano’s numbers are skewed from his Twins days. As a member of the White Sox, he has allowed just three earned runs and eight hits in 11 innings – but he still hasn’t gotten a decision. Liriano is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA vs. Oakland this season (both with Minnesota).
Sunday: A’s RHP Jarrod Parker (7-6, 3.55) vs. White Sox LHP Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59): After starting strong, the rookie Parker is 2-3 with a 5.94 ERA in his past six starts. He made his A’s debut (second MLB start after coming over from Arizona) on April 25 vs. the White Sox, allowing one run in 6.1 innings. Sale was having a dead arm issue and had nine days off before returning to the mound Monday vs. Kansas City and beating the Royals by allowing just two runs in eight innings. He was opposite Parker in the April 25 game vs. Oakland, with Sale allowing two runs in eight innings.
A’s at White Sox Betting Odds and Trends
For the series, I project the White Sox around -165 favorites, with Oakland at +145. In Game 1, Chicago is -125 with the total at 8.5, according to MLB odds. Oakland is 20-27-4 over/under on road, while Sox are 30-24-1 at home.
The A’s are 5-0 in their past Friday games and 7-1 in their past eight road game vs. right-handed starters. Oakland has won 22 of its past 28 vs. righties overall. The Sox are 7-1 in their past eight home games vs. teams with a winning record. Chicago is 0-6 in its past six after scoring two runs or less in its previous game. The White Sox are 0-4 in Floyd’s past four starts vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 10-4 in Oakland’s past 14 Friday games. The over is 6-2 in Floyd’s past eight home starts.
A’s at White Sox MLB Betting Predictions
I still have a hard time believing in the A’s. Yes, since June 2 their 38-21 record is the best in baseball. And they have more than held their own vs. the AL’s best teams, owning season series leads against the Angels (7-5), Yankees (4-3) and Red Sox (6-1) and even (6-6) vs. Texas. Only the Mariners, Indians, D-backs and Giants have series edges over Oakland.
The White Sox certainly will miss Konerko, but they seem to raise their game at home against good teams. They have recently won home series vs. the Angels and Rangers, for example, but also have lost home series vs. the Royals, Cubs and Astros. I like the Sox to win two of three here. But I would roll the dice on McCarthy (and against Floyd) in Game 1, also taking the over.
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