With a boost from a 10-game winning streak Toronto now leads the AL East. This handicapper jumped on the Jays bandwagon yesterday, and will stay on board today, too.
A's-Jays Thursday Odds
As of early Thursday morning Toronto and lefty Mark Buehrle could be found giving -140 at BetOnline, while Oakland and Sonny Gray were getting +142 at 5Dimes. And every book on our MLB odds boards listed a total on today's game of 7.5 runs.
Toronto has taken the first two games of this series, including a 10-3 victory Wednesday night. The Jays kicked a field goal in the first inning, then put up a touchdown in the second on their way to their 10th straight victory.
Combined with a Yankees loss in Cleveland Wednesday Toronto now leads the AL East by a half-game.
Oakland, meanwhile, remains a half-game ahead of Boston in the battle to avoid the American League basement.
The Jays now lead this season series four games to one.
Thursday's Mound Match-Up
Buehrle (12-5, 3.34), by our tough accounting, is 14-for-22 on quality starts this season. Last Thursday he gave up three runs in seven innings against Minnesota, and just before that he gave up three runs in seven innings against Kansas City. On the season Buehrle has allowed 149 hits, including 16 dingers, through 148 innings, walked 22 and struck out 71.
Toronto is 13-9 in Buehrle's starts, with the totals leaning OVER by a 12-8 margin.
Over the last season-plus Buehrle has started twice against Oakland, allowing four runs and 18 hits through 13 innings; the Jays split those two games.
Gray (12-4, 2.06) is 17-for-23 on quality starts, working on a run of four in a row. Last Friday he tossed a complete nine innings against Houston, allowing just one run and five hits, and over his last four starts he's held foes to just four runs through 32 innings. For the season Gray has allowed just 115 hits through 162 innings, walked 40 and whiffed 136, nearly a 4/1 ratio.
The A's, a team that's 13 games under .500 overall, are 15-8 in Gray's starts, with the totals going 10-9, with several pushes.
In three career starts against Toronto, the most recent coming three weeks ago, Gray has allowed just five earned runs through 20 innings; Oakland won two of those games.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Oakland ranks 22nd in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .242 team batting average, and 18th with a .311 team on-base percentage.
Toronto, on the other hand, ranks 12th against right-handed pitching with a .256 team average and eighth with a .324 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Rogers Centre this season are 33-24 on the UNDERS, even though they're averaging 9.3 runs per, fourth-most among all ML ballparks.
Toronto IF Edwin Encarnacion has missed the last three games with a sore finger, and his status for today is uncertain.
A's-Jays Thursday Free Picks
We hit the daily double on yesterday's game with Toronto on the run line and the OVER, and while we have great respect for Gray we'll stick with the streaking Jays today. We're also thinking runs might be a bit harder to come by today, so we'll go UNDER as our MLB pick.
MLB Picks: Toronto and UNDER 7.5 runs (+101) at Pinnacle