AL Wild Card Race Sees Contenders Square Off

 

With eight teams still in the hunt for five postseason berths, the race in the American League continues to burn white hot. Wednesday night sees three head-to-head matchups between contenders in the thick of it, whilst the slumping New York Yankees look to keep their noses out in front as they battle arch-nemesis, Boston.

Tampa Bay @ Baltimore Orioles

Alex Cobb will start for the Rays in Baltimore on Wednesday.

Having once again tied the Yankees in the division standings, Baltimore (79-62, 39-30 home) will look to add to Tuesday’s 9-2 victory over Tampa Bay (77-64, 39-32 road). They’ll be doing so under the gaze of ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball crew and the expectations of bettors not only up and down the East Coast but across the country.

Tampa Bay will be looking to halt the O’s progress and in the process gain ground on the team which it currently stands two games back of in the Wild Card race. As it is for Los Angeles and Detroit, it’s do-or-die time now for the Rays if they’re to make the postseason.

Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.62) will start against impressive rookie Alex Cobb (9-8, 4.28). Cobb is coming off a win over the Yankees while Gonzalez lost two of his last three. Tampa is favorite with +140 odds to beat the spread and -113 in the moneyline. Go with the favorite here and hit the over on 8.5 runs.

New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball crew will be in Bean Town to check out the Red Sox-Yankees clash. The Red Sox (64-78, 33-41 home) rallied to beat the Yankees (79-62, 38-34 road) 4-3 on Tuesday night and will be looking to play spoiler again on Wednesday. The Sox will send Aaron Cook (3-9, 5.17 ERA) to the mound to face off against David Phelps (3-4, 3.55). Or will that be Ivan Nova (11-7, 4.92) who has just returned from injury? Regardless, take the favored Yankees in this one. Every time Baltimore looks to take sole possession of the AL East lead, New York pulls one out of the bag.

Detroit Tigers @ Chicago White Sox

Detroit starter Max Scherzer hasn't lost since July 30, something the White Sox would like to change.

A 5-3 win on Tuesday night means Detroit (74-67, 31-39 road) has split the first two of four in Chicago (76-65, 42-30 home). The Tigers now need to win another two straight to earn a share of the division lead before moving on to Cleveland. Catching Chicago now could be the team’s only chance of making the postseason, as per yesterday’s report.

The Tigers, behind Max Scherzer (16-6, 3.85 ERA), are favorites on Wednesday with +110 to beat the spread and -140 to win straight up. Scherzer hasn’t lost since July 30 and has gone 15-3 since starting the year 1-3. Take Scherzer and Detroit to win and edge a further game closer to the AL Central leaders.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Oakland Athletics

With news that pitcher Brandon McCarthy has returned home following emergency brain surgery after a line drive struck him in the head last week, Oakland (81-60, 39-30 road) will look to tally a third straight victory over the Angels (77-65, 39-31 home) and a sixth win in a row.

Oakland currently holds a four game edge over those contenders not currently occupying a Wild Card position. Another win on Wednesday will go one step further to locking down that crucial postseason berth. Meanwhile, at just three games back of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, it’s not beyond reason that the surprising A’s could win the division.

The Angels are one of those teams chasing a Wild Card berth. They’ll send Ervin Santana (8-11, 5.21 ERA) to the mound to face A.J. Griffin (5-0, 2.21 ERA), the surprising rookie who is only the second player – after Todd Burns in 1988 – in A’s history to begin his career 5-0. Last time out he even outdueled Seattle’s Felix Hernandez.

Los Angeles is favored in this one with the moneyline standing at -124 for the Halos and +114 for the A’s. Neither Oakland nor Los Angeles has managed to hold serve in head-to-heads this year, so expect the Angels to come out on the winning side, thus making the Wild Card picture that little more compact.

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