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A’s vs. Rays – Free Pick August 24th

Oakland A’s +160 at Tampa Bay Rays -170 (Total: 7)

Jarrod Parker vs. Matt Moore

The Tampa Bay Rays are at it again.  Left for dead just a scant month ago, the return of Evan Longoria coupled with the plummeting of the Yankees, has brewed up one of the most compelling stretch-run division races in baseball.  Factoring in the pitching woes of the Yankees with injuries galore, the question “can anyone catch the Yankees?” is now more appropriately “is there any way the Yankees can hold of the Rays for a month??”

My supposition?  No.  Not a chance.

One of the biggest reasons why the Rays will overtake the Yankees will be on the mound tonight.  Matt Moore, the sudden star of last season’s post season stretch run has put his early season woes behind him and is looking like the dominant number one-caliber pitcher the Rays believed he could be.  He is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his last five starts and 9-2 with a 2.76 ERA since June 1st.  Throw out his brutal first month, and you’d be looking at a legitimate Cy Young candidate, right up there with teammate David Price and Verlander and Weaver.

The A’s counter with a young hurler of their own, Jarrod Parker.  Parker has had an excellent season, especially considering it is just the first full season for the 23-year old.  However, like many young pitchers the long season is beginning to take its toll.  He has an impressive 3.48 ERA on the year, but only has two quality starts in his last eight outings, including a six-run, four inning outing two starts ago.  He will have his work cut out for him facing the red hot Rays lineup tonight in the Trop.

The Rays have won seven of eight, scoring 52 runs in the process (an average of 6.5 per game).  The A’s have been playing well also, winners of six of eight, albeit with a lesser offensive output (just 35 runs, or 4.3 per).  The biggest stat in my pick is the fact that the Rays in all five of the most recent wins over Oakland has done so by more than three runs.  With Matt Moore on the hill tonight, I expect the A’s to struggle to score some runs.  Looking at Parker’s recent outings, I also expect the Rays to be able to score a few themselves.  It makes the Rays runline (as high as +130 on a few sportsbooks if you hurry) seem very appealing.

I like the Rays to keep rolling tonight, and am making it a double-up pick; both to win and to win by more than a run and a half.

Free Pick:  Tampa Bay Rays to WIN -170 & Tampa Bay Rays -1.5 (+130)