MLB Picks: Indians at Athletics Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/16/2013
I wouldn't call it likely -- but certainly possible -- that Friday's series opener in Oakland between the Indians and A's could be a preview of the American League's one-game wild-card playoff. The A's entered their series finale Thursday against Houston holding down the final wild-card spot and with a 2.5-game lead over the next closest team, Baltimore. The Tribe, who were off Thursday, are three games behind Oakland.
Cleveland looked cooked when the Tigers came into town to start last week and swept the Indians four games to all but put the AL Central Division to bed. The Tribe then lost their next two at home to a bad Angels team but have since won three of four. The rest of this month likely determines if Cleveland has a playoff shot. After three in Oakland, the Indians visit the Angels for three, host the Twins for three, then visit Atlanta and Detroit for three each. They better fare well against the likes of the non-contending Angels and Twins in that stretch, or it could be ugly.
Oakland inexplicably lost its home series to Houston (the Astros won first two before Thursday's finale) to start a nine-game homestand. The only series the A's have won in their past five was against the sinking Blue Jays. I expect Texas to keep pulling away in the AL West. The Rangers are -175 on Sportsbook.ag to win the division with Oakland at +120.
Indians at Athletics Betting Story Lines
The Tribe start their ace, all-star right-hander Justin Masterson, in the opener. Masterson (13-8, 3.59) was brilliant in his first three starts out of the all-star break but hasn't been great the past two starts, allowing 10 runs and 14 hits in 11.1 innings. He threw 101 pitches in just 4.1 innings last time out, walking four. Sometimes control can be an issue. Masterson pitched May 8 against Oakland, allowing three runs and four hits over seven innings while striking out seven in a 4-3 win. He's 2-5 with a 7.42 ERA in 43.2 career innings against Oakland.
The A's got catcher Derek Norris back on Thursday. He hadn't played since Aug. 10 due to back spasms. Norris is hitting .230 with eight homers. Norris is 0-for-3 in his career against Masterson. Oakland likely won't have outfielder Coco Crisp in the lineup Friday or maybe all weekend. He's limited to pinch-running with a wrist injury and got a cortisone shot Tuesday. Crisp will be missed as he's 3-for-9 with two homers in his career off Masterson. Josh Reddick has two homers off Masterson but is hitting just .143 against him. Yoenis Cespedes is batting .364 versus Masterson.
Oakland starts right-hander A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.88). He allowed two earned runs over 5.2 innings in a no-decision at Toronto last time out but walked a career-high six. The A's have won seven of his past nine starts. He pitched opposite Masterson in that May 8 game, allowing four runs and six hits over 6.2 innings. That's the first time he had ever faced Cleveland. Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana both homered off Griffin. The hottest hitter of late for Cleveland has been backup catcher Yan Gomes as he's batting .444 in August. Maybe the Tribe should play Santana at first more. He's batting only .163 this month. Swisher is at .167. Michael Bourn is at .190.
Indians at Athletics MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the A's opened at -128 and the Indians at +118 with a total of 7. All A's trends entering Thursday: Cleveland is 56-61-4 “over/under” (25-30-3 on the road) and 60-61 on the runline. Oakland is 58-58-3 O/U (27-30 at home) and 62-57 on the runline.
The Indians are 4-14 in their past 18 road games against teams with a winning record. Cleveland is 6-2 in Masterson's past eight series openers. The Tribe are 0-5 in his past five road starts against teams with a winning record. The A's are 1-4 in their past five against teams with a winning record. The A's are 11-2 in Griffin's past 13 at home against teams with a winning record. Oakland is 4-1 in his past five series openers. The under is 7-1 in Cleveland's past eight road games against teams with a winning record. The under is 9-2 in the Tribe's past 11 series openers. The under is 4-0 in Masterson's past four road starts. It is 9-1-1 in his past 11 against teams with a winning record. The under is 9-0 in Griffin's past nine against teams with a winning record. Cleveland is 0-4 in Masterson's past four in Oakland.
MLB Picks: Indians at Athletics Betting Predictions
The off day could work wonders for Cleveland even with the travel out West as the Tribe had played 20 games in 20 days. They swept four games at home from the A's in that first series, holding Oakland to just eight total runs. The Indians are a whopping 17-6 against the AL West this season.
If there's one worry for Cleveland it's the bullpen of late, specifically closer Chris Perez. He has blown saves in two of his past four chances, although Cleveland still won Wednesday's game when Perez did so. Griffin has been pretty good at home, 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA. Masterson is 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA on the road. So take Oakland and the over.
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