Two teams that are on the rise in the American League that are both trying to get back in their races in their respective division are going to meet at the Trop on Thursday night. The showcase game of a short set of MLB betting battles features the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the Oakland Athletics.
Oakland has only scored 496 runs this year, significantly fewer than any team in the playoff chase in the American League, yet it is still in a very tight race with the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, two of which will get into the postseason if the Los Angeles Angels don’t get back into the chase. Great pitching has been the difference, but in the end, the man on the mound on Thursday, Tyson Ross just has to pitch better, especially with Bartolo Colon out for the basically the rest of the regular season. Ross is just 2-8 this year, and he only has a 6.35 RA. The question has to be asked whether he is going to be able to stick in the bigs, but Oakland just doesn’t have all that many more options. Against the Rays in May, Ross allowed seven runs and nine hits in just 3.1 innings of work, taking what amounted to be a brutal loss. However, Ross spent a bunch of time in the minors and is back, starting for the first time here in the Sunshine State since June 28th.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is really within striking distance of the New York Yankees atop the AL East, and this is starting to feel like another year in which the little engines that could will get into the postseason. Alex Cobb was a late season addition to the rotation last year, and he has spent basically the whole year in the rotation this season. He is just 7-8 on the campaign, but before a horrifying eight-run effort against the Los Angeles Angels last week, he was one of the best pitchers on the team. Cobb had won three straight starts, and in those outings, he had allowed just a total of 13 hits and three runs in 21 frames. Cobb does need some work, but we don’t think that he has been as bad as a 4.74 ERA suggests. Batters are hitting .281 against Cobb, but thanks to the fact that he only has 26 walks in 16 innings, he has a reasonable 1.35 WHIP.
Neither one of these teams is really all that great offensively, and both are just figuring out how to generate enough runs to win. Even though both Cobb and Ross are relatively raw pitchers, we just don’t think that these teams are going to combine to get to eight runs more often than not in this battle. Ross should be in for a better start this time around in the bigs, and Cobb should get over that miserable effort against the Angels. Tampa Bay 4 – Oakland 3