Handicapper Predicts Low-Scoring Game for Rays vs. Athletics

Darin Zank

Monday, August 4, 2014 12:31 PM GMT

Tampa is trying to scratch its way back into the playoff race, while Oakland is trying to hang on a divisional lead. Here's our take on a three-game series between the Rays and A's that begins Monday night (10:05 pm ET), with free MLB picks for the taking (or leaving).

Rays-A's Betting Odd
As of early Monday morning Oakland and Jeff Samardzija could be found at -144 at Heritage, while Tampa and Alex Cobb were available at +137 at 5Dimes. And most books were listing the total on Monday's game at seven runs.

Also, TheGreek was chalking the A's at -200 to win this series, with the Rays getting +170.

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Series Set-Up
Oakland just lost two of three games at home to Kansas City over the weekend, dropping Sunday's rubber match 4-2. The A's have lost two series in a row and four of their last six games. But at 67-43 Oakland still leads the AL West by a game over the second-place Angels.

Tampa just dropped two of three games at home to the Angels over the weekend, losing Sunday 7-5. But before that the Rays had won five series in a row, and 11 of their previous 13 games. At 54-57 Tampa is 8.5 games out of first place in the AL East, but also only five games behind Toronto in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.

This is the second encounter between these two teams this season. Back in May Oakland took two of three games from the Rays at the Trop. Two of those games stayed 'under' the totals, as the teams combined to score a total of 13 runs in the series.

Take a Look at the FIP Leaderboard as of August 1st!

Monday's Starters
Samardzija (4-8, 2.92) will be making his sixth start for Oakland, after coming over in that trade with the Cubs. Last time out he gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings against Houston, and in five starts for the A's he's allowed 13 ER and 30 base-runners (hits + walks) through 36 2/3 innings.

For the season, including his time with the Cubbies, Samardzija is 15/22 on quality starts, having allowed 125 hits in 145 innings, walked 35 and struck out 130. The A's are 4-1 in Samardzija's starts, with the totals going 3-2.

This will be Samardzija's first-ever start against the Rays.

Cobb (7-6, 3.54) is 8/16 on quality starts, and two for his last two. Last time out he held Milwaukee to one run through eight innings, striking out 12, and just before that he threw seven scoreless innings against St. Louis, striking out 10.

On the season Cobb has allowed 84 hits in 97 innings, walked 28 and struck out 92. Tampa is 8-8 in Cobb's starts, with the totals going 7-8.

Since the beginning of last season Cobb has started three times against Oakland, allowing five runs and 18 hits through 22 innings; the Rays won two of those three games.

In the battle of the bullpens for this series the A's rank fourth in ERA at 2.86, with 24 saves in 37 chances, while Tampa ranks 18th in ERA at 3.60, with 27 saves in 37 chances.

 

With the Sticks
Tampa ranks third in team OBP at .329 but only 18th in scoring at just under four runs per game.

Oakland leads the Majors in scoring at just under five RPG, while ranking eighth in OBP at .326 and fifth in homers with 114. But the A's also recently traded slugger Yoenis Cespedes to Boston, replacing him, for the moment, with Sam Fuld.

 

Rays-A's Betting Trends
Thanks to a recent surge Tampa is now above .500 on the road this season, at 27-25.

Oakland is 35-19 at home.

While the Coliseum is known as a pitchers' park, the totals have leaned toward the 'overs' this year by a 28-25 margin.

 

Injury Update
Oakland OF Coco Crisp (.372 OBP, 16 SB) has missed recent action with a sore neck, and his status for this series in uncertain.

 

Free Pick for Monday
We're not sure who's going to win this game, but our guess is it will be tight and low-scoring. So we'll go with the 'under' for our free MLB pick for Monday.