MLB Picks: Oakland A's vs. Texas Rangers Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Friday, September 13, 2013 11:35 AM GMT

Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 11:35 AM GMT

The A's have the AL West lead as they reach Texas for a weekend series with the Rangers, and we have previews plus free MLB picks for all three contests. Let's look at Saturday.

 

15 Sept
Sunday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

If the Texas Rangers weren't panicking before Saturday's setback to the Oakland Athletics, they should be in full panic mode by the time thy take the field for Sunday's series finale.

Bartolo Colon was masterful and Texas' bats were once again silent as the A's grew their lead in the AL West to 5.5 games with the 1-0 decision. It marked the fourth time the Rangers have lost a 1-0 game with Yu Darvish on the mound, and the defeat dropped them into a tie in the AL Wild Card race with the Tampa Bay Rays who have suddenly found their rhythm.

Game 3 went out right at a pick 'em before overnight wagering made Texas the slight favorite on the MLB odds. Oakland sends Jarrod Parker to the mound with eyes on a sweep; Texas counters with Martín Perez with hopes of avoiding the brooms, and a 9 run total leaning UNDER awaits scoreboard bettors.

Parker On 19-Start Run Without A Loss

It has been a while since Parker suffered a loss on his personal ledger, 19 starts to be exact. That's an impressive run, no doubt, and even more so considering the 24-year-old had a 5-start streak in June-July that Oakland lost each time. Ten of Parker's starts in the streak have been no-decisions, the most recent this past Tuesday in Minnesota where he allowed two runs (both solo homers) in six frames of a contest the A's ultimately dropped by a 4-3 count.

Parker has been outstanding against the Rangers this season, winning three of four assignments with a 3.12 ERA. He's 1-1 in Texas (3.21 ERA), holding Rangers hitters to a .191 AVG overall.

Perez saw a 6-start win streak end Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the Pirates, allowing four runs and nine hits in his five innings of work. Texas had won his previous seven assignments, and it was just the second time in six home starts the Rangers finished on the short end of a score. The lefty faced the Athletics in Oakland just 12 days ago, beating the A's 5-1 with five strikeouts in seven solid innings.

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick

Sam Holbrook, who was behind the plate when the Rangers and Astros began the 2013 season back on March 31, should wrap this series up calling balls and strikes. The Kentucky native is 14-13-1 O/U/P this year, including an OVER in a Parker start at Oakland in mid-April as well as a run of three straight OVERS coming into Sunday.

More of the same is expected weather-wise for this afternoon's third and final game of the set (3 PM ET). We might see a few more clouds than Saturday, but temps will still be in the low-to-mid 90s along with a SE breeze (in from center).

If you've been reading along all season, then you know how much I like Perez. But I don't like the Rangers right now and will make my free pick on the A's to complete the sweep.

My pick: Athletics +100 at Bet365

 

14 Sept
Saturday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

Frustration for the Texas Rangers may have finally boiled over, and after a tough, emotional loss in the opener of their big weekend set against the Oakland Athletics, it will be interesting to see if they get things turned around in Game 2 or simply lay down.

A big problem for the Rangers during their 2-9 stumble in September has been starting pitching, but they'll have ace Yu Darvish on the mound today in hopes leveling the series. Texas is priced around -155 on the morning moneyline against Bartolo Colon and the A's, with 8 and 8.5 run totals also available on the MLB odds board.

Texas' frantic 8th-inning rally came up just short in Friday's 9-8 defeat, a close and controversial call at 3B that went against Alex Rios and the Rangers ending the threat. Oakland never trailed, thanks to Yoenis Cespedes' 3-run blast in the first, and the Athletics now own a 4.5-game lead over Texas in the AL West.

Can Darvish Top Colon To Escape Tough Stretch?

A lost no-hitter in Houston just over a month ago seems to have put Darvish into a hangover he can't escape. Since that 2-1 win on Aug 12 -- in which a controversial walk ended the el perfect in the 7th before Carlos Corporan's homer in the 8th broke up the no-no -- Texas is 0-5 in Darvish assignments. Four of those setbacks have been by scores of 4-3, 3-2 (twice) and 1-0 this past Monday in a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates.

The fifth loss in that stretch came against these A's earlier this month. Yu was tagged for five runs and two homers in five innings of an 11-4 Oakland rout, but six walks were the real culprits. Darvish is 1-5 in six lifetime starts vs. the Athletics in 2013, 0-3 this season, with a 4.86 ERA.

Colon also came up on the short end of the stick when the teams got together in Oakland less than two weeks ago, a 5-1 loss to Martín Perez and the Rangers who moved back into the AL West temporarily with that victory. Colon's own fielding gaffe led to three of the four runs he allowed in five innings being unearned. That Sept. 3 start was his second following a DL sting, and he has since beaten the Astros (6 IP, 1 ER, 7 K).

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick

Joe West certainly didn't make any friends at Rangers Ballpark on Friday when he ejected Matt Garza for overzealous chirping from the Texas bench. West, who chief's this particular umpire crew, will have the plate in Saturday's contest and he has made friends with bettors who like the UNDER. Six of his last eight plate assignments finished short of the number, leaving him 9-15-2 O/U/P in 2013.

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A lot of sun and temps in the 80s are forecast for the start of this game just after noon local time. There's also an easterly wind in the 8-10 mph range which could help the hitters more than the pitchers. My initial lean is to the OVER, and my free pick is on the underdog A's.

My pick: Athletics +141 at Bet365

 

13 Sept
Friday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

Maybe the 13th day of September will be lucky for the Texas Rangers. They certainly could use some luck after the first 12 days of the month have seen them go from a 2-game lead in the AL West to a 3.5-game deficit.

The good news is, it's in Texas' hands to cut into that margin with a visit from the 1st-place Oakland Athletics who have been just as hot as the Rangers are cold.

Game 1 finds a pair of hurlers each in search of their 10th wins of the year as Dan Straily gets the call for the A's opposite Derek Holland. Texas went out -135 on the overnight MLB odds, and that moneyline has stuck along with a 9 run total (U-120).

Winners of only two of 10 games this month, the Rangers still have a 2-game edge at the top of the current AL Wild Card ranks, but manager Ron Washington knows that is far too close for a club that looked so strong in August when Texas posted a 20-7 mark. The offense has been stymied averaging 3.4 RPG this month compared to more than a run higher for the year.

Oakland has won eight of its first 11 September affairs, 13 of 17 going back to the final week of August, to move back to the top of the division. The A's have relied primarily on pitching during the stretch, holding opponents to three runs or fewer 10 times, the bats picking their moments to come alive, including an 18-3 laugher in Minnesota in the second of this 6-game road trip.

Straily On 3-Start Win Streak, Holland's Last Dubya Aug. 4

Friday's mound duel is one we saw in Oakland just 11 days ago when Straily and the A's got the better of Holland and the Rangers, 4-2. The game closed right around a pick after Texas opened as -115 road chalk, one of the few winners I've had this month myself.

That victory was the middle start of a 3-game winning run for Straily, the most recent coming last Saturday with seven scoreless, 2-hit innings against the lowly Astros. The righthander out of Marshall also had a 7-IP, 0-R, 2-Hit performance against the Rangers on this very mound back in May. Balancing the two winning assignments vs. Texas are two poor efforts -- one in each park -- that saw Straily combine for nine innings while allowing 11 runs (10 earned).

Since losing to Straily and the A's on Sept. 2, Holland got knocked around by the Angels in an 8-4 whipping. The southpaw fell victim to his own pitching and sloppy defense, including an error of his own that opened the doors for a 3-run Halos first. Texas has won five of eight Holland starts, but his last dubya came Aug. 4 in Oakland with eight shutout innings in a 4-0 decision.

Did ESPN Writer Jinx Rangers?

There's no worse feeling for a writer, analyst or baseball bettor than to declare something isn't going to happen, and then for that to immediately happen. That's the case for ESPN beat writer Richard Durrett who penned a column on Sept. 2 with reasons why the Rangers wouldn't suffer déjà vu with a repeat September collapse. Holland lost to Straily just hours later, and Texas is 2-6 since after being broomed by the Pirates to begin this homestand.

Pittsburgh entered that series reeling in their own right following a rough sweep at the hands of the Cardinals in St. Louis. Texas does have the upper hand in the season series so far with Oakland, but just barely at 9-7 (4-3 at home, 3-2-1 O/U/P). There's also the revenge factor some are talking about after the A's swept three from the Rangers at the end of 2012 to win the AL West in dramatic fashion.

 

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Revenge will give way to pressure, at least in Game 1, on the Rangers with losses piling up to drop them close to the dogfight for the second AL wild card. The Texas lineup seemed to relieve a little pressure in the final 11 innings of the sweep vs. the Pirates, and I'm counting on them to put up a crooked number early against Straily. On a warm evening in Arlington with a NE wind possibly providing a little help, I'll take a chance on the OVER for my MLB pick.

My pick: Athletics-Rangers Over 9 (+100) at William Hill

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