Well, I guess the winning streak had to come to an end sometime. We had reeled off seven consecutive wins since the All-Star break and were 13-5 in the month of July. But the hot streak came to a screeching halt last night in the most painful way possible, when we backed the Washington Nationals with Patrick Corbin on the mound, against Julio Teheran and the Braves.
Corbin had been on fire in his last several starts, and I expected good things out of him. And while Teheran had been pitching good recently as well, I felt that Corbin was the better side of the matchup and the number was a tight one, so I backed the Nats and expected a closely contested affair.
The game turned out to be a pitcher’s duel as Corbin and Teheran both had strong outings. Corbin lasted five innings as his pitch count swelled early, but he allowed just two runs. And Teheran pitched five and two thirds and gave up just one run. Both guys ended up with no decisions as this game was turned over to their respective bullpens.
It looked like the game was all but over in the ninth inning as the Nationals were down 3-1 heading into the game’s final frame. Then Nationals center fielder Victor Robles hit an absolute bomb in the ninth to tie the game up at three runs apiece. It felt a little bit like magic, and it seemed like our hot streak was destined to be extended another day.
But then the Nationals decided to bring in reliever Fernando Rodney, and he proceeded to do Fernando Rodney things, and we lost the bet. Rodney quickly walked the bases loaded and the game ended when Josh Donaldson hit a deep fly ball that the outfield didn’t even make a play on. It was a super painful way to lose a long winning streak but what can you do, it happens. Today we get right back up on the horse and head to Minnesota in search of more value.
The Oakland Athletics are in Minnesota Saturday looking to take the series lead against the Twins. The A’s have been red-hot in the last several weeks, and with the recent run have surged up the standings in the American League. The A’s currently occupy one of the two wild-card spots in the AL, and after falling behind double-digit games early in the season, they are now just five and a half games back of the Houston Astros for first place in the American League West Division.
For the Twins, they had been leading the way in their division, the American League Central, all season long, but have slipped up as of late, and all the sudden the Cleveland Indians are just three games back of the Twins for first place. The twins are just 6-7 in the month of July.
Starting for the Athletics is Brett Anderson (9-5 3.79 ERA), and for the Twins, it is Jose Berrios (8-5 3.10 ERA). The game total over-under is set at ten runs. The Twins are -135 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Target Field in Minneapolis.
Despite not getting much attention in the mainstream media right now, the A’s are playing really good baseball. They have won eight out of their last nine games and going back to mid-June they are 20-5 in their last twenty-five games. And with ace pitcher Sean Manaea getting close to returning from injury, this team is only going to get better. They took a series two games to one against Minnesota earlier this month, and with this current series split at one game apiece, they are looking to take the series lead tonight with Brett Anderson on the mound.
Brett Anderson had one really bad start a couple of weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Rays where he got blasted for seven runs in just three innings of work. Besides that one outlier, he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since early May. He has given up two runs or less in seven of his last ten starts.
Anderson does a great job forcing ground balls and getting deep into games while working efficiently. He has pitched into the seventh inning or deeper in seven of his last nine starts. And the stellar results are converting to wins for the A’s as they have won ten of his previous thirteen starts. He will have his hands full tonight though against a hard-hitting Twins team.
The Twins will counter Anderson with their ace, Joe Berrios. Berrios has very quietly put together a nice season. The problem for Berrios is that the Twins can’t seem to win when he pitches. Berrios has had one winning decision since May 24th. The Twins have lost five out of his last six games. And he has actually pitched really well during that stretch.
During that recent run of losses, Berrios has yet to allow more than three runs in a game and has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his last seven starts. This Twins team scores a bunch of runs, just not when Berrios pitches.
Berrios forces a lot of fly balls. And you can see by the fifteen home runs he has allowed this season, that when you let people tee off on your pitches and drive them into the air, sometimes those balls leave the park. And that is dangerous against this Oakland team that has significant pop. The A’s are sixth in the game in home runs entering play tonight.
This is a close game. The Twins are deservingly favorites, but I think they are valued too highly right now. Anderson and Berrios are having similar seasons, so I call that a wash. And with how hot the A’s are right now, coupled with the fact that the Twins have been really struggling the last month, I can confidently say the A’s are the better overall team in this one. Don’t let the media fool you, this A’s team is the real deal.
I could see the Twins maybe as -105 or -110 favorites, but -135 is much too high. This is one of those coin flip games that could go either way. So, I will jump on the value side and back the Athletics. I always like taking coin flips getting dog money, and it is a great betting strategy. I will take my own advice tonight and back the much hotter team. Give me the Oakland Athletics as road underdogs tonight in game three at +125!