Red Sox at Athletics Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/12/2013
The Boston Red Sox open a three-game series in Oakland on Friday night, and it's not hard to picture the Sox visiting Oakland come October for a playoff series as well. Boston has the best record in the American League and the top run differential. The A's have the second-best record in the AL and third-best run differential (Detroit No. 2). As good as the A's have been, they could get stuck in the wild-card game as they likely will be fighting Texas all season for the AL West title. The Angels are playing much better, but they are likely too far back to be a factor there. Sportsbook.ag lists Texas as the -120 division favorite, with Oakland at even.
You want more proof that Oakland is getting no respect? Since July 1, 2012, the A's have an MLB-best record of 111-64 but will have just one all-star in next Tuesday's game at Citi Field: pitcher Bartolo Colon, who has become an unlikely ace at age 40 and after last year's suspension for PED use. There's talk that Colon might choose not to pitch in the ASG because he's starting Sunday. A new rule would allow him to go one inning maximum, but pitchers who start Sunday have the option of saying they won't pitch. They'd still be introduced before the game. If Colon decides that, his spot could to go Oakland closer Grant Balfour, who hasn't blown a save in 24 chances and has a sparkling 1.72 ERA.
There are always other potential injury substitutions to get another Oakland guy in -- for example, Texas pitcher Yu Darvish is now on the DL and will need to be replaced on the roster. A's third baseman Josh Donaldson definitely deserves to go, leading the team with a .313 average along with 15 homers and 58 RBI. He's No. 7 in the AL in OPS. A lesser case could be made for shortstop Jed Lowrie. Yoenis Cespedes will compete in the Home Run Derby.
Oakland, which was off Thursday, has won seven of 10. The Red Sox finished a four-game set in Seattle on Thursday. The A's will finish the first half with a winning record for the first time in five years. This 10-game trip is arguably Boston's toughest of the season. It lost two of three at the Angels to open the trip.
Red Sox at Athletics Betting Story Lines
One of the best pitchers in baseball of late has been Boston's John Lackey (6-6, 2.80). His $82.5 million, five-year deal in December 2009 looked like a major bust, especially after missing all of last season. He has allowed more than three runs just once in his past 10 starts and not more than two in any of the past five. With Jon Lester struggling and Clay Buchholz hurt, Lackey's emergence has been huge. Lackey hasn't faced Oakland this year but has faced the A's a ton from his Angels days, going a stellar 18-6 with a 2.91 ERA.
The A's are so young that many haven't seen Lackey. Outfielder Coco Crisp has two homers off Lackey but is hitting just .167 in 30 at-bats. Catcher John Jaso is 5-for-12 with a homer and three RBI in 12 at-bats off Lackey. Boston really needs Lackey to go deep because its pen is ravaged by injuries, recently losing valuable lefty Andrew Miller for the season. Boston definitely is active in trade talks for a lefty reliever (White Sox's Matt Thornton?).
Oakland counters with young right-hander Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.04). He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his past 10 starts. Parker had a minor hamstring injury that forced his last start to be pushed back a few days. He allowed three runs on five hits in 6.1 innings at Kansas City. Oakland has lost his past three starts. Parker's home ERA of 4.53 is almost a run worse than his road one, which is strange because O.co Coliseum is very pitcher-friendly. No current Red Sox has more than six at-bats off Parker. Mike Napoli has the lone homer, his only hit in six at-bats. David Ortiz is 1-for-6. In Wednesday's game, “Big Papi” passed Harold Baines to become the all-time hits leader for a designated hitter.
Red Sox at Athletics Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the A's are -126 and the Sox +116 with a total of 7.5 All Red Sox trends entering Thursday: Boston is 46-43-4 “over/under” (24-20-2 on road) and 48-45 on the runline. Oakland is 48-42-2 O/U (21-21 at home) and 50-42 on the runline.
The Red Sox have won four of their past five series openers. Boston is 5-1 in Lackey's past six Friday starts. It is 2-5 in its past seven road games against righty starters. The A's are 7-0 in their past seven after an off day. Oakland is 5-1 in Parker's past six home starts. The over is 5-0 in Boston's past five against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Lackey's past six road starts. The under is 6-1-1 in Oakland's past eight overall. The under is 7-3 in Parker's past 10 series-opening starts. The over is 6-0 in the past six meetings.
Red Sox at Athletics Picks and Betting Predictions
Boston won two of three against Oakland at Fenway Park from April 22-24. The A's had won eight straight games against the Sox before that series. Oakland's lone win in the series was 13-0 behind Colon in a game shortened to seven innings because of weather. That was notable as it was the first time a team scored 13 or more runs in a game that lasted seven innings or fewer since September 1983. As good as Lackey has been, the Sox are likely to be a bit gassed as they will have played 10 straight games, while the A's will be nice and rested. Plus, Parker is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA career against Boston. Take Oakland and the under.
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