After a few days off during the MLB All-Star break, the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics kicked off a three-game series with a tight game on Friday Night. The series will continue with a midday game at 4:07 PM ET from Oakland Coliseum.
The Athletics took Game 1 of the series last night by a one-run margin for a final score of 5-4. Oakland scored two runs off of a walk-off home run from Jed Lowrie in the 9th inning to cap off the night and secure the victory. The home run marked the third hit for Lowrie on the night and brought his game total of RBIs up to three.
After the win last night, Oakland brought their win total up to 52 wins on the season and are attempting to creep closer to their AL West foes, the Houston Astros. The Athletics are now four games back, trying to find their way out of the wild card and to the top of the division.
Cleveland fell to 45-42 on the season after last night’s loss and is now a far 7.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central lead.
A win today would be huge for their confidence out of the All-Star break as they try to mount a comeback.
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Keys to Series Game 2
The pitching matchup slated for this game is not one that will have you on the edge of your seat.
The Athletics will be sending out right-hander Frankie Montas to take the mound this afternoon. He has recorded a relatively poor 4.41 ERA on the season over 100 innings pitched. He has struck out 105 batters over those innings, and his production has led to a record of 8-7.
The Indians will call on fellow right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill for the start on the bump. His ERA is nearly the same as Montas, sitting at a 4.23. The third-year pitcher has recorded 61.2 pitched innings on the season with 43 strikeouts and has sacrificed 20 walks. Quantrill got the win in his last start, pitching six mediocre innings, allowing three runs in a game where the Indians won 14-6 against the Royals. That win was a part of the Indians’ three-game sweep of the Royals prior to the break.
Jed Lowrie for the Athletics has now homered in two straight games for the team, bringing his season total to 11. All-Star Matt Olson and catcher Sean Murphy have also started to up their game to start this next half of the season. The Athletics, despite their good record, have struggled at the plate this season and have been carried by some stellar pitching. They have a team batting average of .234, good enough for 21st in the Major Leagues.
However, when they do make contact, they make it count, hitting 117 home runs on the year, which has them ranked in the top 10 in the league. Their slugging percentage is also good enough to be in the top half of the league at .407.
For the Indians, their season has been a true rollercoaster. Before their three-game sweep of the Royals prior to the All-Star festivities, they had lost nine in a row. Much of the blame can be put on the Indians’ bat for their recent losses. They have not been able to get on base and score runs. The terrible skid has brought their team batting average down to .229 on the season, and they have only scored 383 runs on the season, both of them being in the bottom half of the league.
These teams are both doing their best to fight for good positioning in a tight AL wild card race, and picking up wins is a critical factor for both teams.
While it was previously mentioned that Quantrill is coming off a victory in his last start for the Indians, it did come against a Royals team that is going nowhere fast after a hot start. It also marked his first win of the season, with much of his work this year being done in relief and limited starts.
In a matchup of somewhat poor pitchers, it is often smart to go with the more dangerous and lethal team from the plate, and recently that has been the Athletics.
The A’s got the win last night, and they looked pretty strong in doing so, keeping their composure and securing the walk-off victory. I like their success to continue at home, a place where they have done well for the entirety of the season. I’m backing the Athletics.
Final Picks: Athletics ML (-170), over 8.5 runs (-120)