Motivation can be a key handicapping factor, and that's the case for Sunday's series rubber match between the Rangers and A's in Arlington.
A's-Rangers Sunday Odds
As of this writing the best line we could find on Texas with rookie righty Chi Chi Gonzalez was the -141 at BetOnline, while Oakland and lefty Felix Doubront were getting +134 at 5Dimes. And the total for today's game sat at 9.5 runs.
These teams have split the first two games of this series, Texas winning Friday 4-0, Oakland winning Saturday 5-3. So the A's have won three of their last five games, while the Rangers have lost three of their last four.
At 74-67 Texas trails division-leading Houston by just a game and a half in the AL West, and leads Minnesota by one game in the fight for the second American League wild-card spot.
Oakland, meanwhile, at 61-81 is trying to play the role of spoiler.
But the A's have been doing just that to the Rangers this season, taking 10 of 15 games in the series. And the totals have leaning toward the OVERS by an 8-5-2 margin.
Gonzalez (2-5, 4.25) is getting called up from the Minors to make a spot start Sunday, his first for the Big Club since Aug. 18. On the season, by our strict standards, he's three-for-nine on quality starts, and 0 for his last five. Most recently, 25 days ago, he gave up three runs in six innings against Seattle, and over his last five starts he's allowed 23 runs through 25 innings. So far as a Major Leaguer Gonzalez has allowed fewer hits, 45, than innings pitched, 55, but his K/BB ratio stinks, at 26/25.
In two starts this season against Oakland Gonzalez has given up seven runs through 12 2/3 innings; the Rangers lost both those games.
Doubront (3-1, 4.22) is just three-for-eight on quality starts, one-for-five since joining the A's in that trade with Toronto back in July. Monday he gave up four runs in six innings against Houston, and just before that he gave up four runs in six innings against the Angels. On the season, including his time with the Blue Jays, Doubront has allowed 62 hits, although just three home runs, through 53 innings, walked 17 and struck out 38.
Oakland, thanks in part to some great run support, is 4-0 in Doubront's starts, with the OVERS also going 4-0.
In his most recent outing against Texas, back in April of last year when he was with Boston, Doubront got knocked around for five runs in less than three innings of a 10-7 Sox loss.
Sunday's Batting Splits
Oakland ranks 23rd in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .308 team on-base percentage, and 23rd with a .396 team slugging percentage.
Texas, on the other hand, ranks 22nd against left-handed pitching with a .309 team OBP and 17th with a .393 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Globe Life Park are 33-27 on the UNDERS this season, even though they're averaging 9.5 runs per. Obviously,oddsmakers are posting some large totals on Rangers home games.
A's-Rangers Free Picks
Most of our handicapping factors balance out for this match-up, but we like Texas with our MLB Sunday, because they needs this one more. Also, we rank both these bullpens among the bottom half-dozen or so in baseball at the moment, so we'll go OVER.