A's as +105 Underdogs vs. Braves Attracts This Handicapper

Willie Bee

Friday, August 15, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

The Braves are in a major slump as they close out a long homestand against the Athletics, and SBR will have previews and free MLB picks for all three games in Atlanta this weekend.

They were located in Philadelphia and Boston, respectively, when the Athletics and Braves collided in 1914 for their only postseason matchup. The A's featured three future Hall of Famers on their pitching staff -- Eddie Plank, Herb Pennock and Chief Bender -- while the Braves had two Cooperstown-bound infielders in their lineup, Johnny Evers and Rabbit Maranville.

Both franchises have since relocated twice, and Oakland is doing everything it can to get back to the World Series this season. Atlanta remains in the National League chase, but will need to get on the hump these final 6+ weeks to have a shot at meeting the Athletics in the Fall Classic 100 years after sweeping Connie Mack's men.

Just the fourth regular season series between the teams takes place this weekend in Atlanta, Friday's lid-lifter slated for a 7:35 PM (ET) first pitch at Turner Field. Alex Wood delivers that initial toss for the Braves who opened around -115 on the moneyline, that number holding fairly steady. Jason Hammel is up next in the A's rotation, and SBR's live baseball odds show the books are in agreement on a 7 run total.

 

Braves Need Series Win To Break Even On Homestand
Oakland (73-48, +8.6 units, 59-55-7 O/U/P) still sports the best record in baseball, but the Athletics have fallen into a little rut of late as they end a weeklong road trip. The A's just dropped three of four to the streaking Royals in Kansas City, and have seen their lead in the AL West cut to two games ahead of the Angels.

Trouble for Atlanta (61-60, -10.1 units, 50-64-7 O/U/P) started just before the break with five setbacks in eight games leading up to the All-Star Game. The Braves have since gone 9-17 -- 3-9 in August -- to drop six games off the pace being set by the Nationals in the NL East, and three games behind the No. 2 wild card spot in the NL.

Friday's tilt marks the first time in more than six years the squads have met. That series also took place in Atlanta where the Braves won two of three to give them a short 5-4 edge all-time in interleague matchups. Only one of the three series between the clubs took place in Oakland, that one played in 2003 with the Braves also winning two of three.

Two of the three games played in 2008 failed to reach the total, but the high side of the figure has still cashed five of nine overall.

 

Wood Coming Off Career-High 12 K Performance
Hammel was part of the deal Oakland struck with the Cubs in early-July, Jeff Samardzija being the other key acquisition for the Athletics. Things have gone much better for Samardzija so far, while Hammel is still trying to fit in with his new team, his third in the last two seasons, with the A's losing five of his first six starts.

The lanky righthander has shown signs of coming around this month, however, allowing just one run over 12 innings in his last two assignments. Hammel faced the Braves in Atlanta earlier this year while still wearing a Cubs jersey, taking a no-decision in an ultimate 3-2 Chicago loss with a 7-IP, 2-ER linescore.

Wood is coming off a solid performance last Sunday vs. the Nationals, striking out a career-best 12 during his 7.1 frames and surrendering just one run on an Ian Desmond solo shot. This will be Wood's third assignment vs. an American League club this year, splitting the previous two despite a 0.67 ERA.  This will be the southpaw's first career go at the Athletics.

The weatherman says there is no chance for rain this weekend in Atlanta, and only light breezes which should not affect the games at all. Tonight's battle should begin with the thermometer on 80º with a 2-5 mph NW zephyr (left to right); if there are any major developments on the weather front, we'll include them in our next two game previews.

Offense has been a big problem for the Braves all season, and especially this month (33 runs in 12 games). Facing a deep and talented A's rotation shouldn't help matters, as Sonny Gray and Jon Lester follow Hammel to the hill. Both teams are running cold, but I'll take my chances with Oakland for my free MLB pick in Game 1.

My Free MLB Pick: Athletics +105 at Bookmaker Sportbook

Season: 99-103 (-5.10)

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