Rays Look To Avoid Third Straight Loss To Oakland A’s

Tampa Bay Rays AT Oakland A’s
July 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM EST
Opening Line:  TAM -124, OAK +114
Current Line:  TAM -128, OAK +118
Opening Total: 6.5
Current Total:  6.5

SP:  TAM- James Shields, OAK- Trevor Cahill

Evan Longoria still has yet to find the groove, and is hitting .238 on the season

The A’s have dominated the first two games of this series, outscoring the Rays 13 to 6 over both games.  Last night, they came out ahead 6-1.  Conor Jackson, hyped in my preview last time, came through, going 3 of 4, but he did leave two on base.  It was enough, as Kurt Suzuki drove in two runs and Weeks, Matsui, and Pennington drove in one a piece.

No one had a particularly strong game for the Rays, who managed only seven hits.  Matt Joyce and Casey Kotchman did go 2 of 4, but Upton did not get a hit and neither did Desmond Jennings.  David Price allowed 7 hits and 4 earned runs, as his ERA inflated to 3.76 ER on the year.  Brandon McCarthy picked up the win for the A’s, improving to 3-5 on the year with an ERA actually superior to his opponent (Price) at 3.53 ER.

Since the All-Star break, the A’s are hitting .308 from the plate while averaging 5.4 runs per game.

Cliff Pennington, in fact, has got things together in a big way.  His batting average has increased 0.29 since the All-Star break, as he has went 18 of 36 with 8 RBIs over 11 games.

“You’re seeing a confident player…” Bob Melvin assessed.

As mentioned in last night’s preview, a loss by Tampa Bay puts them in a bleak position with regards to making the playoffs, now 10.5 games behind division leading Boston.  They are also 8.5 games behind second place New York.

In desperation perhaps, Tampa will look to win at any cost tonight, even if it means a lot of innings pitched by starter James Shields.  Shields is 9-8 on the season with an outstanding 2.53 ERA, and has won more games than he’s lost with almost no run support (2.8 runs per game, the third lowest in the majors).  Shields is only 9-5 when giving up 3 runs or fewer, only further illustrating the pointlessness of the win-loss record as a measure of quality pitching.

Trevor Cahill will take the mound for the A’s.  He’s 8-9 with a 3.77 ERA, but suffered badly in his last appearance, when he allowed 10 runs and 9 hits in 2 innings against the Yankees.  The A’s have also lost 12 of his last 14 starts, and his ERA over that span is over 5.00.  He hasn’t made it out of the third inning in his last three appearances against the Rays.

Some betting trends:

Tampa Bay is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games and 1-6 SU in their last 7 on the road.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of the Rays’ last 5 games against the A’s, while the Rays are 2-6 SU in their last 8 against Oakland.  The total has gone OVER In 4 of the Rays’ last 5 games on the road against the A’s, and the Rays are 2-6 SU in their last 8 games on the road in Oakland.

The total has gone OVER In 7 of the A’s last 8 games and they are 4-2 SU over their last 6.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 6 at home and they are 6-1 SU in their last 7 games at home.  The total has gone OVER In 4 of their last 5 against the Rays and the A’s are 6-2 SU in their last 8 games against Tampa Bay.  The total has gone OVER In 4 of the A’s last 5 games at home against TB, while the A’s are 6-2 SU in their last 8 home games against the Rays.

Given the fact that Cahill has been absolutely miserable against Tampa Bay, I fully expect the Rays to get off early on and run up the total past the 6.5 runs.  It might be a detiorative effect for the A’s pen once the Rays get hot.

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