The Oakland Athletics will head to Anaheim Friday for game one of a three-game series with the Angels. This will be the final series of the year for both teams and both squads have a bit to play for. The A’s are hoping to pick up the three-game sweep to keep the pressure on the New York Yankees for home-field in the American League wild-card game. The Yankees magic number to lock up home-field advantage is just one, however, they are playing in Boston against a Red Sox team that would absolutely love to knock them out of the top wild-card spot. For the Angels, they could finish without a losing record on the year if they can win out this weekend.
Starting tonight for the Athletics is Mike Fiers (12-7 3.31 ERA), and for the Angels it is Jaime Barria (10-9 3.54 ERA). The A’s are -133 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM PST from Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
The Oakland Athletics weren’t a team many people were fearing coming into this season in the American League West Division. The Houston Astros were the clear favorite as they came into the season with basically the entire team that led them to the World Series Championship last year. The Astros did not disappoint as they won the division and have the second most wins in all of baseball.
And the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels were both poised to have breakout years as they made some big-time acquisitions. The Mariners loaded up their already formidable lineup by adding speedster Dee Gordon to the mix, and the Angels added the Japanese Babe Ruth, Shohei Ohtani to both pitch and hit.
That didn’t leave much room for an A’s team that didn’t do much of anything to help bolster their squad in the offseason. Yet here we are, with the Oakland A’s as the second-best team in the division as they will be heading to the playoffs as the second wild-card in the AL. One move that was basically dismissed at the time it was made was the acquisition of Mike Fiers from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline this season.
Since being traded to the A’s, all Fiers has done is win for Oakland. The A’s are 8-1 in Fiers nine starts, and he has a sub-three run ERA during that stretch. Fiers have allowed two runs or fewer in seven out of his nine starts with the A’s. Fiers is a veteran guy that has really helped lead this team to the postseason. When all is said and done this year, the addition of Fiers may end up being one of the best moves of the entire year, by any team.
The Angels got more bad news earlier in this week when it was decided that Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani will need Tommy John surgery. The Angels have decided to let him play out the season as a hitter, and he will undergo surgery next week. Not sure why the angels are decided to delay things an extra week, maybe they are giving Ohtani a chance to solidify his chances at winning the rookie of the year award.
Ohtani has a real shot to win the award as he has shown that he is a real threat both at the plate and on the mound. We saw that last night when he blasted a late-game home run to win the game for the Angels last night. The Angels will send a different rookie to the mound tonight to try and play spoiler, with Jose Barria taking the bump.
The 22-year-old Barria has enjoyed a solid rookie campaign this season. He picked up double digits wins, and his 3.54 ERA is more than serviceable in the American League. The struggle for Barria has been, despite pitching fairly well, his team seems to lose a lot with him on the mound. The Angels are 7-11 in the last eighteen games he has started. Barria is also really having a hard time getting deep into games as well. Barria has pitched less than six innings in twenty of his twenty-five start this year.
I am going, to be honest, I am not sure what is keeping this number so tight. This Angels team isn’t playing all that well at the moment, they had lost eight out of ten before picking up a sweep against the dreadfully bad Texas Rangers in their last series. And the A’s have been the best team in baseball in the last three months.
I guess since this is a division game where the Angels would like to show some heart at home to finish out the season has kept this number from getting out of hand. But I will take advantage of the discount and back the far better team, the Oakland Athletics. I like our side of the starting pitching matchup, and I feel the A’s are clearly the side to be on. Give me the Oakland Athletics as small road favorites tonight at -133!