8:10 p.m. ET – Athletics at Twins (-105 ML) O/U: 8.5
The 23-16 Athletics travel to the Twin Cities to take on the 12-23 Twins on Friday night to open a three-game series at Target Field. Oakland was hammered on Thursday night in Boston, falling 8-1 after left-hander Sean Manaea allowed seven earned runs in only two innings of work. However, the A’s have not lost any of their past four series. Minnesota is trending in the other direction, losers of four games in a row, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox by a combined score of 26-13.
About the Athletics
Oakland started the season 1-8, but has ripped off 22 wins in its last 30 games. The A’s are averaging the 17th most runs in all of baseball at 4.1 runs per game. Being seven games over .500 is impressive, especially considering they own a run differential of negative-13. A team that does nothing exceptionally well has been great at closing out tight baseball games.
Which has catapulted them into first place in the American League West. First baseman Matt Olson is the unquestioned leader of the team, batting .261 with eight home runs and 23 RBI this season. Third baseman Matt Chapman has been a disappointment so far, hitting .212 with five home runs and 15 RBI over a month into his 2021 campaign.
The pitching staff owns a mediocre team ERA of 4.11, but it has been solid of late as it sat at 5.85 on April 14. The improvement from the pitching staff is the main reason why Oakland began finding success toward the end of April and has been able to carry the momentum into May.
About the Twins
The Twins are one of the biggest disappointments in all of baseball up to this point of the 2021 season. The 2020 American League Central champions sit in last place in their division currently, behind even the woeful Detroit Tigers. Yeah, those Detroit Tigers that are not even trying to win. Minnesota has a run differential of negative-15.
Which is only two runs worse than Oakland, yet they have 11 fewer wins. The main reason why has been their inability to close out close games this season. The Twins are a better team on paper than they have been on the field, as they average the eighth-most runs in the league at 4.7 per game. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz missed the beginning of the year, but once healthy joined the club without missing a beat. Cruz is batting .295 with nine home runs and 22 RBI this year, leading the team in each of those categories.
Center fielder Byron Buxton was having a breakout start to the season before being placed on the 10-Day injured list with a hip injury near the end of April. Buxton was batting .370 with nine home runs and 17 RBI in only 92 at-bats before the injury. The Twins are searching for someone to pick up the production in Buxton’s absence, and no one has emerged as a candidate to this point. The pitching staff has done Minnesota no favors. The Twins own a team ERA of 4.63, which is seventh-highest in all of the major leagues.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Oakland Athletics||-1½ (+140)||-115||O 9 (+100)|
|Minnesota Twins||+1½ (-170)||-105||U 9 (-120)|
The Pitching Matchup
Oakland is turning to right-hander Frankie Montas for the series opener on Friday night. Montas is 4-2 with a 5.50 ERA in 36 innings spread across seven starts. Montas earned a win his last time out, going 5.1 and allowing only two earned runs against the Rays
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker is toeing the rubber for the Twins with the hope of stopping the team’s losing skid at four games. Shoemaker is 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA this season in six starts. Shoemaker is coming off his best start of the season last time out, throwing five shutout innings against the Tigers and earning the win.
There is not as much of a talent gap between these two teams as public bettors think there is. The A’s are going to garner a lot of public action on Friday night, but the value is on Minnesota has short home underdogs. The starting pitching matchup is a toss-up and the Twins are due to finally start winning some of these close games.
*Odds Courtesy of MyBookie Sportsbook