Baseball Predictions: Orioles at Indians Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/4/2013
Doesn't anyone want the American League's second wild-card spot? It's starting to look more and more like the AL West runner-up between Texas and Oakland will claim the No. 1 wild-card spot and home-field advantage in that Oct. 1 playoff game. Meanwhile, the top three teams jockeying for the second spot, the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians, are all scuffling.
Entering Tuesday's Game 2 of their series in Cleveland, the Orioles are one game under .500 since the break and have taken just one of their past four series. The Birds are two games behind the sinking Rays for the second spot. The Indians are 3.5 games back and are one game over .500 since the break but have lost six of seven following Monday's 7-2 loss in the series opener to the Orioles.
That loss could have killed Cleveland's chances, and here's why: all-star pitcher Justin Masterson left the game with sore ribs. If it's an oblique problem, and that's very common in these circumstances, he's likely to miss at least a few starts. Masterson is 14-9 with a 3.49 ERA. He leads the Indians in wins, innings and is tied for the AL lead with three shutouts. If he's out two weeks or longer, then I don't think the Tribe have a wild-card shot despite a very favorable schedule the rest of the way. On the positive side, the Tribe were expected to activate utility player Ryan Raburn for Tuesday's game. He has not played since Aug. 18 with soreness in his left heel/Achilles' tendon. Raburn has been having a fine season, hitting .272 with 15 home runs.
Orioles at Indians Betting Story Lines
Remember last year how the Orioles were fighting for the AL East title right down to the wire and were a huge surprise in winning the wild-card playoff game? I don't want to say that Baltimore was lucky in 2012, but it was a ridiculous 29-9 in one-run games, a big-league record. That type of good fortune was bound to change this year, and it really has. Baltimore is 15-24 in one-run games, one of the worst marks in baseball.
The Orioles were active before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. They made claims on Seattle's Mike Morse and the Twins' Josh Willingham. They couldn't work out a deal for the latter, probably because Willingham is struggling this season and is owed $7 million next year, but did acquire Morse. He will platoon in left field with Nate McLouth, starting against lefty pitchers. Thus, he is not likely to be in the lineup Wednesday but could pinch-hit. Morse is hitting .230 with 13 homers and 27 RBI this year and had two hits and a run scored in his Orioles debut on Sept. 1. Morse will be a free agent after the season. The Birds have taken the path of several mid-level deals -- Bud Norris, Scott Feldman, Morse -- instead of one big trade.
Baltimore is scheduled to start right-hander Miguel Gonzalez on Wednesday. Gonzalez (8-7, 4.11) was blasted by the Yankees last time out, allowing seven runs -- two homers -- in four innings. It was his first start in 10 days, and if he has another like that he might stay in the bullpen. Gonzalez faced the Indians on June 27, allowing three runs and nine hits in 6.2 innings of a 7-3 win. Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Aviles both homered off Gonzalez.
Cleveland counters with right-hander Zach McAllister (7-8, 3.81). He was also roughed up in his last start, allowing five runs and six hits, walking four, in 3.2 innings of a loss in Detroit. McAllister had three straight quality starts prior to that, and the Tribe won them all. He hasn't faced Baltimore this year and is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 13.1 innings career against them. O's slugger Chris Davis is 0-for-6 off McAllister. J.J. Hardy has three hits, including a homer, in six at-bats. Hardy is one homer from becoming the fourth active shortstop and ninth since 1901 to hit 25 or more in three separate seasons. That seems rather hard to believe. McAllister has been better at home this year, going 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA.
Orioles at Indians MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Indians opened at -118 and the Orioles at +108 with a total of 8. All trends entering Tuesday: Baltimore is 66-62-8 “over/under” (35-31-3 on the road) and 77-59 on the runline. Cleveland is 60-72-5 O/U (33-33-1 at home) and 68-69 on the runline.
The Orioles are 5-0 in their past five Game 3s of a series. They are 4-1 in Gonzalez's past five Game 3s. Baltimore is 1-5 in Gonzalez's past six road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Indians are 18-5 in their past 23 Game 3s. Cleveland is 2-12 in its past 14 against teams with a winning record. The Tribe are 0-4 in McAllister's past four starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1-1 on Gonzalez's past seven starts. The over is 10-2 in McAllister's past 12 starts at home.
Baseball Predictions: Orioles at Indians MLB Betting Picks
I could see a bit of a letdown here for the Orioles as it's the finale of a tough nine-game trip with an eight-game homestand starting Thursday night. Neither pitcher is very trustworthy, so I have to lean to the over but lean the Tribe, who then get Thursday off to gear up for the stretch run.
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