Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays – MLB April 27

7:10 p.m. ET – Athletics (-115) at Rays O/U: 8.5

The 15-8 Athletics take on the 11-12 Rays in Game Two of a four-game series at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. Game One went to Oakland, which has now won 14 of its last 15 games. Left-hander Sean Manaea allowed one run on four hits through five innings of work.

Catcher Sean Murphy hit the go-ahead two-run home run in the fourth inning and that was all the offense the Athletics needed to win the series opener.

About the Athletics

Oakland Athletics LogoOakland is the hottest team in baseball, mainly because of its pitching over the past two weeks. Before they ripped off their recent 12-game win streak (which ended last Sunday with an 8-1 loss at Baltimore), the Athletics had the highest ERA in baseball at 5.85. Over the last 15 outings, they have lowered it down to 4.30.

Hitting has not been an issue this season, either, with Oakland averaging 4.5 runs per game, the eighth-most in all of baseball. Despite playing their home games in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the majors, the Athletics have managed to hit 29 long balls this year, sixth-most in the big leagues.

First baseman Matt Olson has emerged as a superstar in the early going, batting .301 with six home runs and 17 RBI this April. A career .248 hitter, Olson has always hit for power, but if he can continue to hit for average he will be an American League MVP candidate come season’s end. All of this success has come with third baseman Matt Chapman struggling, as he’s batting .154 to start the year. Once Chapman gets going at the plate this team will become even more dangerous than the version that just rattled off 12 wins in a row.

About the Rays

Tampa Bay Rays LogoThe defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays cannot seem to string together any series wins this season. This is despite the fact that the Rays are scoring 4.5 runs per game, tied with Oakland for eighth in the majors.Second baseman Joey Wendle is leading the offense in the early going with a .319 batting average, three home runs and 15 RBI.

Helping Wendle out has been 2020 ALCS MVP Randy Arozerana, who is batting .301 with three home runs and 10 RBI this April. But the lineup needs more consistent production from the bottom half if they want to be able to string wins together and repeat as American League East champions.

The pitching staff has been just as inconsistent, if not more, allowing the eighth-most runs in all of baseball at 4.7. Tampa Bay has been built on its pitching throughout Kevin Cash’s tenure as manager, and if they do not find a way to slow down opposing lineups, this team is going to be a one-hit playoff wonder.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Oakland Athletics -1½ (+145) -110 O 8½ (-105)
Tampa Bay Rays +1½ (-170) -110 U 8½ (-115)

The Pitching Matchup

Right-hander Frankie Montas will be toeing the rubber for Oakland. Montas is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 18.2 innings spread across four starts. Montas has had two great outings and two outings where he has not gone more than four innings and allowed over six runs.

The Rays are giving the ball to right-hander Michael Wacha to try and even up the series. Wacha has been middle of the road this season with a 4.36 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched over four starts. Wacha started the year shaky, but has thrown 11.2 innings in his past two starts combined while allowing only three runs.

What’s the Bet?
The best bet in this game is to target Tampa Bay as a small home underdog. The Rays have not been consistent to start the season and that was on display on Monday as they were unable to get anything going at the plate. Thankfully for Tampa Bay, they get to see a right-handed pitcher on Tuesday night.

The Rays should be able to find success against Montas who has struggled this season against opponents not named the Tigers and the Astros, the teams who were shorthanded when he faced them.

Wacha should give the Rays enough of a quality start to turn it over to the bullpen and get Tampa Bay only its fifth win at Tropicana Field this season.
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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.