If you considered the sportsbooks perspective of this series between a pair of last place clubs, the betting odds of the first three games tell you what you need to know as a baseball handicapper.
For a third straight day Cleveland is favored under the lights in Oakland. Both teams were sellers at the trade deadline, but the Indians have played with more gumption and look to win the series and possibly position themselves for a sweep tomorrow. Does the Tribe have what it takes, let's find out.
Every sports team develops its own personality each year. Sometimes for example certain clubs play better on the road than at home and while there is no magical solution to understand why, it just happens.
This seems to be the case for Cleveland who has taken the initial two contests in Oak-Town, lifting them to 28-22 (+5.2 units) away from northern Ohio, which is the second-best win percentage in all of baseball. The catalyst has been tremendous pitching both from the starting pitchers and the bullpen, having allowed only 3.5 runs per game and in this series a total of two.
The Indians offense has certainly not been dynamic with five total runs, but manager Terry Francona has nowhere to turn after Jason Kipnes and Michel Brantley have batted, as slots in the batting order 4 thru 9 are hitting under .225. With who Oakland has pitching, they should have better swings and they will try to move to 19-7 after allowing three runs or less in two straight games this season.
The Oakland offense has fallen on hard times in dropping seven of eight, having tallied 20 total runs and hitting an uninspiring .189 collectively. When it goes this bad it is everybody who is at fault but All-Star catcher Steven Vogt unfortunately has really stood out, mired in a 0 for 19 slump.
The A's have seen two Tribe hurlers with a lot of ability and made them even better. Tonight they will catch a Indians starter who has been scuffling and possibly Vogt, Billy Burns or Josh Reddick can have a breakout game and Oakland can start thinking about evening the series tomorrow afternoon.
However, that could be just wishful thinking for MLB picks since the Athletics are 6-15 after a game with a combined score of four runs or less this season.
Anderson vs. Brooks
After a historic start to his big league career, Cody Anderson (2-2, 3.36 ERA) has run into trouble. His first four starts he was 2-1 and allowed just three runs in 30 1/3 innings. In his previous two starts he's been rung up for 11 runs on 18 hits in 8 1/3 innings. Though he has four pitches, Anderson does not miss many bats and has only 14 strikeouts in almost 40 innings of work. He has to keep the ball down and on the black to be effective.
Aaron Brooks (0-0, 6.23) came to Oakland in the Ben Zobrist trade with Kansas City and will be making his second career start. He pitched just twice for the Royals this season and has an above average low-90's fastball along with a slider and changeup. He was 6-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 17 starts for Triple-A Omaha.
Betting Odds and Outcome
Cleveland opened as -125 away faves on the MLB odds board and now are under -120 ( Heritage at -113) with concerns about what Anderson will do for the Indians. The situation certainly does not favor Oakland who is 21-31 (-19.4) at home and 6-14 in their own park when the money line is +125 to -125 this season.
Though I have correctly made the right choice for sports picks in the first two matchups (8-1 of late), I'm less comfortable with this one, though for my money the Tribe are still the choice because of our lack of knowledge about the A's starter and their always shaky bullpen.
Free MLB Pick - Cleveland -117