5/8/2010 4:05:00 PM
The Tampa Bay Rays have become Road Warriors this season, going a sensational 13-1 away from home, and they look to continue that success today in Oakland.
The Tampa Bay Rays, off to one of the best starts of any club in recent memory, continued their winning ways Friday night in Oakland. Led by 24 year old left hander David Price, the Rays held the struggling Oakland offense to just three hits in rout to a 4-1 win.
Tampa Bay (22-7) has won five straight games, and ten out of their last 12. The best road club so far this season, the Rays come into Saturday with a 13-1 road record.
Oakland (15-15) has been hammered hard with the injury bug lately. The Athletics currently have eight notable players on the Disabled List, and their lineup is showing the ramifications of that.
Oakland hopes to avoid falling below the .500 mark Saturday afternoon, and they’ll turn to veteran right hander Ben Sheets. Sheets, who will be making his seventh start of the 2010 season, comes into Saturday with a lopsided 1-3 record and a ballooned 7.12 ERA. Sheets has struck out and walked an equal 16 number of batters this season. His WHIP is a staggering 1.91.
Sheets’ performance this season has been underachieving to say the least. He has lost his last three starts, and has looked overmatched doing so. He is hitting his marks, but doing so with mid-range fastballs and a curve ball that is simply not breaking. In his last two starts, both on the road against Toronto and Tampa, Sheets has gone a combined seven 1/3 innings, giving up 19 hits and allowing 17 earned runs.
Some notable Rays hitters have had prior career success against Sheets. Slugger Pat Burrell, who hit a home run against Sheets April 27th in Tampa, is a career 8 for 19 against Sheets. In smaller sample sizes, B.J. Upton is a career 2 for 2, Carlos Pena 1 for 1, and Evan Longoria 1 for 2 in their career against Sheets.
24 year old right hander Wade Davis will try to win his fourth straight game against the Athletics on Saturday. Wade is 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA in five starts on the season. While he has struck out 22 batters, control has been an issue with him so far this season as he’s allowed 16 walks.
Davis’ control could be a factor on Saturday afternoon, as the Athletics have some extremely patient hitters. Daric Barton is currently third in the American League in walks with 23, and seventh with an On Base Percentage of .416. Also of note, Cliff Pennington has 14 walks and an OBP of .357 and Ryan Sweeney comes into Saturday with an OBP of .345.
The Athletics high rate of getting on base all becomes moot however when no one can drive them in. Although Kevin Kouzmanoff and Ryan Sweeney have both been swinging hot bats, there is simply not enough fire power in the Athletics lineup. Against a hot pitcher like Davis, I expect for the A’s offense to have a tough time mustering runs.
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Oakland, which went 6-4 against Tampa Bay in 2009, is now 0-3 against the Rays this season.
Early lines opened up with Tampa Bay favorites at minus 140. Given Sheets’ inability to get hitters out, Tampa Bay’s current streak, and Oakland’s lackluster lineup, I’ll be playing the Rays. The plus money on the run line even appears to have pretty solid value given the circumstances. As of this writing, that could be found at plus 110.
Statistics used in this were taken from ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and SBR Lines.