MLB Picks: Rays vs. Indians AL Wild Card Betting Preview

Joe Catalano

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 5:29 PM GMT

In a one-game sudden death postseason showdown to decide who faces the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians come into this wild card on a 10 game winning streak, but tonight won’t be so easy as the Tribe face a battle-tested Alex Cobb of the Rays.

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The American League Wild Card Game is set for tonight at 8:07 pm ET at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio and can be seen on TBS television.

Despite winning 10 straight and playing at home, the Tribe is the underdog at +106 sports betting odds and the total for the game is 7 runs. MLB odds makers and bettors alike appear to think that starting pitching will play a major role in tonight’s matchup.

No Star Just Wins

When you look at the Cleveland roster, this is basically what you get. You’re not going to find a Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout on their roster; this is just a team that finds ways to win baseball games.

When asked who is their most important player on their squad, it was unanimous that 42-year old Jason Giambi was the answer. Now how could that be? Giambi did hit a big game winning home run in the drive for the wild card, but he isn’t a major factor on this baseball team. This is just a team of blue collar-like players with a blue collar manager in Terry Francona, who would love to get a shot at his former team in the Boston Red Sox in the next round with a win here tonight.

Despite not having a superstar on this team, Cleveland ranks 5th in the majors in runs and 7th in on-base percentage. The Tribe will look towards their 3-headed monster in Michael Brantley (10 HR, 73 RBI, .284BA), Jason Kipnis (17 HR, 84 RBI, .284 BA), and Carlos Santana (20 HR, 74 RBI, .268 BA) for some answers to solve the code to crack Cobb. If that doesn’t work, veterans like Nick Swisher have the experience of playing in high pressure situations and coming through in the clutch.

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“Longo”

The reason why the Rays are in this game is because of the play of their outstanding superstar, Evan Longoria. Longoria helped put away Texas in the play-in game as he went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, and 2 RBI. The Rays have felt like most of their games lately have been wild card games, but with Longoria, they have the one game changer that Cleveland doesn’t.

On the season, Longoria had 32 HR, 88 RBI, and a pedestrian-like .269 BA. Longoria is considered a superstar because he comes through with as many if not more big hits than a player that bats .300. Look for the Rays 3rd baseman to be a factor in this game.

The Difference

The reason that the Rays are baseball betting favorites in this game is because of the advantage at starting pitching that they have when Alex Cobb takes the mound. Cobb has suffered a freakish injury that has limited his playing time this year, but the Boston, Massachusetts native has come through when called upon.

Cobb is 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA and has been perfect in 3 decisions in the month of September with a 2.57 ERA. Cleveland has the home field advantage, but Salazar was just a minor leaguer when this season started.

Outcome

It’s very difficult to go against a team that’s won 10 games in a row and I’m not going to. Cleveland has found a way to win when they really needed to and this team appears to be a team of destiny. This should be a closer game than yesterday’s wild card, but look for the Tribe to celebrate at Progressive Field.

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MLB pick: Bet the Indians to win, +103 at Bet365

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