MLB Picks 2012: Oakland Athletics vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Oakland Athletics (67-57) and Tampa Bay Rays (70-55) will continue their three-game American League series on Friday night at Tropicana Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET

Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are making a run at the New York Yankees in the AL East division

Oakland is part of a three-way tie for the AL’s second wild-card spot, but the club suffered a 5-0 series-opening loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night.  “I don’t see us as a team that’s been shut out that many times,” commented Athletics manager Bob Melvin.  “It’s more surprising than early in the year, when we had a string of them.”  The Athletics managed just four hits in getting blanked for a major league-leading 15th time.  Oakland is 5-5 as a road underdog of +150 to +175 this season, with the “under” going 5-4 in those contests.

Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker (8-7, 3.48 ERA) snapped a personal three-game losing streak in earning an 8-0 home victory over the Cleveland Indians, allowing six hits over eight shutout frames.  The right-hander is 4-3 with a 5.11 ERA in nine road efforts, surrendering four home runs in 49.1 innings.  Parker suffered a 4-1 home loss to the Rays in his only career start against them on Aug. 1, giving up three runs and eight hits over six innings.

Tampa Bay is the hottest team in baseball due to winning 14 of its last 17 games, which has moved the squad within 2.5 games of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.  The Rays are starting to feel better about putting Evan Longoria back on the field, as he made his second start at third base since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 7.  The pitching staff has been brilliant over the last 12 games, posting a 1.90 ERA in that span.  Tampa Bay is 21-9 versus AL West teams this year.

Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (10-7, 3.57 ERA) has won four straight decisions, including an 8-3 road win over the Los Angeles Angels last time out, giving up two runs and five hits over 6.1 innings.  The left-hander is 7-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 14 home starts, issuing 34 walks and striking out 80 batters in 83.2 frames.  Moore was handed a 9-5 setback at home in his only career start versus the Athletics on May 6.

Sports bettors will likely play the total in this contest, as the OVER has gone 7-2-1 in the Athletics last 10 road games versus southpaw starters.

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