A's Lock For Postseason
Oakland passed the 65-game mark of the season Tuesday. At that point, the team had a whopping plus-124 run differential. According to ESPN and BaseballReference.com, only 25 teams previously since 1903 had a run differential of at least plus-124 through their first 65 games. Since 1940 only nine clubs had done it and all made the postseason and won at least 98 games. The last was the 2001 Mariners. who won a record 116 games (but didn't reach the World Series). If you are wondering, the highest run differential in a season's first 65 games since 1903 (when the World Series was first staged) was plus-211 by the 1939 Yankees, who finished 106-45. Interesting stuff. The A's are +600 on MLB odds to win the World Series, behind only San Francisco. Oakland is a +200 favorite on at sportsbooks to win the AL pennant and -300 to take the AL West for a third straight season. Despite that crazy run differential, the A's haven't been crazy good from a betting perspective. Entering Saturday they are +567 in overall units. However, Oakland is an excellent +1149 in runline units.
As noted above and barring a playoff meeting, Sunday will be Jeter's final game in Oakland. Jeter's most memorable defensive play happened there in Game 3 of the 2001 AL Division Series on Oct. 13. That would be the famous flip play with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the Yankees leading 1-0. Oakland's Terrence Long doubled down the right-field line and it appeared a lock that Jeremy Giambi would score from first when outfielder Shane Spencer overthrew the cutoff man. However, Jeter came almost out of nowhere to grab the throw at the first-base foul line and flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada. He tagged Giambi out, who appeared so shocked he didn't even slide. New York won the game 1-0 to cut Oakland's lead in the series to 2-1, and the Yankees went on to win in five.
It's lefty Vidal Nuno for the Yankees one of three current guys in the rotation who wouldn't normally be starting due to injuries to guys like CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, the only one out for the season. Nuno (1-2, 4.97) hasn't lasted more than 5.2 innings in his past two starts. One of those was June 4 at home against Oakland in which Nuno allowed two runs and six hits in 4.2 innings of a 7-4 loss (he didn't get a decision). Yoenis Cespedes went 2-for-2 with a solo homer in the game off Nuno, who was pulled leading 4-2 after 92 pitches. The Yankees were +125 underdogs on MLB odds on that game. Nuno has been much better on the road in 2014, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six appearances, four of which were starts. By comparison, he has a 7.36 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-4, 3.04) starts for Oakland. He's also only in the rotation because of injuries. Chavez had started just twice in his journeyman career before this season -- 2012 with Toronto -- and all 35 appearances last year were in relief with the A's. Chavez has been a huge surprise, although Oakland has lost three of his past four outings. The one victory was that June 4 game at Yankee Stadium against Nuno. Chavez went six innings and allowed four runs and seven hits. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run dinger off Chavez in the game. Ichiro Suzuki is 4-for-6 in his career off Chavez, all singles. Chavez is 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA in five home starts. He holds righties to a .187 average, while lefties are hitting .202 against him.
MLB free picks: Oakland -165 on MLB odds. It has won four straight against lefty starters. Go 'over' 8 runs as neither pitcher is too reliable. The 'over' is 6-1 in Chavez's past seven as a favorite, and we will rely o these trends with our MLB picks today.