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Rangers at A’s – Free Pick October 2nd

Texas Rangers -138 at Oakland Athletics +130 (Total: 7.5)

Matt Harrison vs. Travis Blackely

The Playoff roster, if not the exact who-plays-who’s, is completely set.  I am still not convinced that Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels aren’t good enough to win the World Series, but one major factor will keep them from do so… they aren’t in the tournament.  Despite furious charges by both teams, the young, unproven upstart Orioles and A’s just never faltered and held them both off with veteran aplomb.  The result is one of the most surprising playoff lineups in the last 20 years.

It can get even crazier tonight if the Oakland A’s continue going Moneyball on the Texas Rangers and force essentially a winner-take all scenario Wednesday with a division-tying win tonight.  They have won five of eight against Texas, and have won four in a row, five of six, and seven of nine overall.  Their late-charge and head-to-head success against Texas have put the largely unknown Athletics into the national spotlight.

So now’s as good a time as any; meet the A’s!

The A’s will send another one of their young hurlers to the mound, hoping he will fare better than he has in his last two starts.  Blackely has lasted just one and two innings respectively, allowing nine runs in his last two outings.  He will need a better outing tonight if the A’s are going to force the magical game 162 many baseball fans (and all A’s fans) are hoping for.

The Rangers will counter with Matt Harrison who has been excellent all season long.  The young lefty will be looking set a franchise record for wins in a season by a left-hander by notching his 19th victory.  He gets somewhat lost in the hype around the offense, the addition of Yu Darvish and departure of CJ Wilson, but Harrison has been a legit ace all season long.  I expect him to fare well tonight against the rather pedestrian Oakland lineup.

My gut feeling?  This thing has gone on long enough.  It’s time for the Rangers to stand up, be the Rangers, and finally put this AL West crown to rest.  It is a huge game for them, in that it will allow them to get their rotation completely set for the postseason and try to do what they were just a mere one strike away from last season; a World Series championship.  A loss would be disastrous.  They’d have to play tomorrow like their season depended on it.  Lose THAT and then on Friday their season really WILL depend on it.  They’d be forced to go all-hands-on-deck for the Wildcard one-game playoff.  That is two HUGE games tossed by front of the rotation starters before the playoffs even begin…

But I don’t think any of that will be necessary.  I like the Rangers to jump on Blackely early and roll up some big offensive numbers tonight.  I love the Rangers to WIN at -138.  It feels like a near-lock (or as much of one as you get in the crapshoot that is baseball).  I like them -1.5 runs as well at a nice profitable line of +125.  I’m making both official plays tonight.

Free Pick:  Texas Rangers to WIN -138 & Texas Rangers -1.5 (+125)