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Athletics Try to Sweep Rays

Tampa Bay Looks to Salvage Finale

The Tampa Bay Rays try to salvage the finale of a three-game series when they take on the host Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon. The series finale is scheduled for a 4:07 p.m. ET first pitch at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.

The Rays have dropped the first two games of the series to fall to 18-17. Tampa Bay is in fourth place in the American League East, percentage points behind the New York Yankees for third and a half-game behind the second-place Toronto Blue Jays.

Sean Murphy drives in a run Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics Predictions
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images/AFP

Oakland is 21-14, just a half-game behind the Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball. The Athletics lead the AL West by 2½ games over the Seattle Mariners and three games over the Houston Astros.

The MLB odds for Sunday’s game have the Athletics with a -117 moneyline, while the Rays are at +107. The over/under for the contest is set at 7½ runs.

Bay Area Slump

The Rays came into this series on a five-game winning streak, including a four-game sweep on the road against the Los Angeles Angels. But they’ve been stymied in the first two games, managing just four runs.

Left-hander Shane McClanahan will take the mound to try to stop the bleeding on Sunday. The 24-year-old is making his third major league start and is still looking for his first decision in the big leagues.

McClanahan faced Oakland in his major league debut, going four innings and allowing two runs on five hits, including a home run, striking out five and walking none. In his last start, on Tuesday against the Angels, McClanahan went four innings and allowed just two hits and no runs, striking out five and walking two.

Tampa Bay’s offense has been having trouble pushing runs across, stranding 11 baserunners in Saturday’s loss. The Rays rank 24th in baseball with a team batting average of .224.

“I’m happy with the way the guys were competing,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said after Saturday’s loss. “I totally understand and recognize, but the hitting’s going to come around. It’s just been kind of quiet here lately.”

Designated hitter Austin Meadows leads the Rays with seven home runs and is tied for the team lead with 17 RBIs. But he has just one hit over the last four games and hasn’t driven in a run since knocking in five in Tuesday’s win over the Angels.

Hot Hitter

The hottest hitter for Oakland may not even play on Sunday. Outfielder Seth Brown may sit against a left-handed starter. Brown has a home run in each of the first two games of this series, including the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth on Friday.

Brown platoons with Stephen Piscotty, but he got into the game as a pinch-hitter on Friday and hit a first-inning blast on Saturday. Brown has five home runs in just 55 at-bats, driving in 12 runs and scoring seven times.

Second baseman Jed Lowrie paces Oakland with a .282 batting average and 22 RBIs while first baseman Matt Olson and outfielder Ramon Laureano each have a team-high seven home runs.

Left-hander Cole Irvin will make his seventh start for Oakland. Irvin is 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA, striking out 34 and walking just five in 35 innings of work.

Irvin took the loss in his first start against Tampa Bay on April 28, going six innings and allowing two runs on seven hits, including a home run, while striking out eight and walking one in a 2-0 Rays win. He evened up his record in his last start, an eight-inning stint against Toronto in which he allowed just one run on three hits, striking out nine and walking one.

Athletics Complete Sweep

Oakland has been one of the better teams in baseball since the first week of the season and it should continue its surge in this one. Irvin has been solid even in his losses, and Tampa Bay’s offense is a little off right now.

McClanahan has some good stuff but is young. He could have some trouble keeping the Oakland bats quiet in this one.

When making your MLB picks, take the Athletics to get the win and complete the sweep.

Pick: Oakland Athletics -117

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