All seemed lost for the Oakland Athletics last week after they dropped three games in a row to the lowly Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, falling to 3½ games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees for the two American League Wild Card spots. Oakland was also behind the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners in the race, making a climb up the standings and into the postseason improbable.
Now, following a five-game winning streak against some weak competition, the Athletics are right back in the thick of things. The streaking Red Sox and Blue Jays have jumped up into playoff position with their own surges, yet the A’s are only three games behind Boston and two games behind Toronto. Seattle has faded two games behind Oakland while the reeling Yankees are just a half-game ahead. With 13 games left to play, the A’s definitely need some help to reach the playoffs but, if they take care of their own business, they’ll have a great chance.
The Mariners, who are 3-5 in their eight games to fall off the pace a bit, will try to slow Oakland down this week in the Bay Area. Upstart Seattle has been in contention for much longer than anyone expected, but the Cinderella story might be coming to an end soon.
Sean Manaea gets the start for the A’s against Seattle’s Tyler Anderson, a trade-deadline acquisition, in a matchup of tough southpaws. First pitch from Oakland is at 9:40 p.m. ET. The BetUS Sportsbook has the A’s as -170 moneyline favorites while the Mariners are at +150. MLB odds have the over/under at 8 runs.
Manaea Will Come Through
His overall season numbers — 3.95 ERA, 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.1 walks per nine innings — look pretty solid, but they gloss over how Manaea had a really rough August in which he failed to pitch more than five innings in any start and gave up five or more runs on three separate occasions. The good news is that, outside of a rough start against the Kansas City Royals his last time out, Manaea has been much more like his usual effective self this September.
His first two starts this month were seven-inning gems against tough lineups in the Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox, in which he struck out nine and allowed just five hits in each outing. It’s crucial for Manaea to limit his home runs, which really hurt him in August — he gave up three apiece in bad starts against the Rangers and Yankees — but they haven’t been an issue lately (only two allowed in his last 17 innings).
Seattle is a middle-of-the-pack home run hitting team, so outside of Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger, there aren’t many big power bats in the Mariners’ lineup. That’s great news for Manaea, who has dominated Seattle this season. In two starts against the Mariners, he has thrown an eight-strikeout shutout and 13-strikeout seven-inning win. If you’re betting online, it’s fair to say you can expect Manaea to continue his ownership of a division rival.
Recent Struggles for Anderson
The Mariners swooped in late to get Anderson, who initially was headed from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Philadelphia Phillies before a last-second medical issue allowed Seattle to jump in. For the most part, he has been exactly what Seattle needed in terms of a reliable innings-eating veteran who can keep the Mariners in games. Lately, though, he has really struggled.
Anderson failed to get through the fifth inning in either of his last two starts. It won’t be easy for him to turn things around against an Oakland team that hasn’t been great offensively this year but has been hitting the ball much better since the beginning of August.
The deadline pickups of righties Starling Marte, Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes have made the A’s much more formidable against left-handers like Anderson, as well as giving Oakland some much-needed speed. Marte has been the perfect table-setter for run producers like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman who have been tearing it up since the All-Star break.
The MLB lines think the A’s will get to Anderson so there’s only a little juice on the Oakland runline, but that’s still the smart play.
Good Value on A’s Runline
Even though the A’s are sizable home favorites, their runline (+115) is the right bet to take for this game if you’re making MLB picks. The A’s do play a good amount of one-run games — 46 so far this season — but the Mariners find themselves on the short end of a lot of blowouts so that’s a sign for optimism.
Seattle is 10-27 in “blowouts” (games decided by five or more runs) while Oakland is 18-16. If this game is a laugher in either direction, it likely will be in Oakland’s favor because it has the starting pitcher and lineup advantages in addition to faring better in those kinds of games. With Manaea’s track record and a surging A’s’ offense that can manufacture runs with speed just as easily as iwith extra-base hits, the A’s on the runline is the way to go.