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August 15, 2015 (Posted at 1:00 PM ET)

Sunday's selections will be released at 11:00 AM ET.
 

#1: Take Baltimore Orioles (-128) on the Money Line against Oakland Athletics risking 3.84% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Gonzalez and Bassitt must start for wager to have action)

This is a matchup between two teams who are heading in complete opposite directions at the moment. The Baltimore Orioles currently find themselves just 1.5 games back from the final Wild Card spot in the American League, a spot that is currently owned by the Los Angeles Angels. With the Angels being in the midst of an extremely tough series with arguably the AL's best team, the Kansas City Royals, this series is arguably the O's chance to take over that coveted Wild Card spot. Baltimore is in a prime position in this series facing the cellar dwelling Oakland Athletics. 

Oakland has no doubt had an incredibly poor season. They have a lot of young pitching talent that should carry them over for seasons to come, however this year their offense simply has not been there when they needed it to be. The A's are 10 games out of a possible Wild Card spot and would need an implosion from 5 or 6 teams for them to even have a shot at a Wild Card spot! The A's season, is for all intent and purposes over. This is also a team that has had a series of (repeated) unfortunate events that has basically crushed the morale of this entire team. Oakland is a team that has actually played rather well but has not been able to put in a complete effort for a full 9 innings; they can keep games close, but they simply cannot win them. Oakland has lost more games decided by exactly 1 run than nearly any other team this season. Closely contested losses have been this teams downfall all season long and that has had a very negative effect on the player’s motivation and morale. People can only suffer heartbreak so many times before becoming numb to it and almost "expecting" it to happen moving forward. It has been this kind of defeatist attitude and mindset that has held the A's back this season. 

Another closely contested loss happened last night as they fell to these same Orioles, 8-6 in extra innings! It had to be a roller coaster of emotions for the Oakland players since they managed to tie the game in the 9th inning to force extra innings. The A's actually had a 4-0 lead in the 5th innings before things started to unravel. To go from winning, to losing, to tying only to ultimately end up losing at the end, is a rollercoaster ride of emotions that leaves the players drained and ultimately deflated for this contest. Not a lot of good things have happened to the A's this season. The way that they currently view the season is to take away as many moral or "small" victories as possible. That is truly all they are playing for at the moment and to have the hope of a small win ripped away from them, not once, but twice in a single game is extremely tough to get over. We believe it will likely affect them in this game tonight. Despite Oakland's offense explosion last night (6 runs), they have scored 11 runs in their last three games and three or less runs in six of their last nine games. They have lost five of their last seven games when scoring three or less runs. 

Let's not forget that this is a rematch of a recent Aug 4th matchup between these two teams that took place at the Coliseum, the only game that the Orioles dropped in that series against Oakland. There is no question that Miguel Gonzalez, who had a poor game by his recent standards in that contest, will surely be looking to get his revenge tonight. He has actually limited the A's current (non-injured) group of players to just a .180 batting average so that shows he has had success against this lineup and tonight he should be helped out by his offense who is certainly clicking at the moment. The Orioles have homered 14 times in the past eight games, scoring 22 of their 36 runs during that stretch with the long ball. 

In their recent meeting in Oakland, it was the first time that this O's lineup had had a chance to see the Chris Bassitt. The rookie is making a name for himself since being put into the rotation, coming in with five straight quality starts while also racking up 10 Ks in his last outing. While that is certainly impressive, we also believe that will be short lived. It is not uncommon for an unknown pitcher to have a stretch of success in his first few starts as opposing offenses are not used to his delivery, timing and mechanics. Bassitt, for the most part has been living and succeeding based on his anonymity; but that should change tonight as the Orioles now have experience against him and a more extensive scouting report. They should have a much better read behind the plate and given how potent their lineup has been, they should enjoy success tonight. Bassitt will not have the luxury of playing at the Coliseum for this rematch which is a pitcher-friendly venue, instead he will be in hostile Camden Yards, in what is a much more hitter-friendly park and where the O's have won 5 of their last 7 games! It's also no secret that the A's have struggled mightily on the road recently having lost 5 straight on the highway and we don't believe this is the ideal opponent or situation for them to snap that skid. 

The odds have shifted in this game which we believe has opened up value on the home team. Baltimore is no doubt the better overall team this season. They have the better offense, the better bullpen and the less error-prone defense! They are a quality team with revenge motivation in this particular pitching matchup going up against a team that is deflated, tired and has nothing to play for. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Baltimore has won 26 of 40 at home when the total is set at 8 to 8.5 runs.
  • Oakland is 0-4 in their last 4 games against AL East clubs.
  • Baltimore is 31-19 when playing against a team with a losing record this season!
  • The Orioles are a perfect 12-0 since Sept 2014 at home after a win in which they used 5 or more pitchers! 
     

#2: Take Houston Astros (-145) on the Money Line against Detroit Tigers risking 4.35% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(McHugh and Verlander must start for wager to have action)

The Tigers and tonight's starter, Justin Verlander are both living off past hype and glory. This is not the same pitcher that was AL MVP nor is this squad the same winning ball club that it was under Jim Leyland. Coach Brad Ausmus is young and perhaps one for the future but still has a lot to learn about leadership at this level. His team has taken too many nights off and too many games for granted. Under Leyland, this squad was feared, tenacious and knew how to edge close games. While some of the players remain, the club as a whole has regressed and sent a clear signal of its ambitions for the season when it traded away not only their Ace, David Price but also Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria.

Detroit has one of the most hittable bullpens in the league and often fails to hang on to leads even when their starter does record a quality outing. Soria was their closer and by far their best reliever! The relief core was a weakness even before his departure but his absence has maginified the problem and has been sorely felt. The Astros on the other hand acquired a bunch of quality additions to bolster not only their offense but also the bullpen. AJ Hinch's squad has never been more ready to step on the field and win ball games and is hungry for recognition and success! The front office displayed their lofty aspirations by being 'buyers' rather than 'sellers', in complete contrast to the Tigers. Needless to say, these two clubs that are heading in opposite directions for the time being.

Houston remains atop the competitive AL West and is one of the best teams in the Majors and yet the average fan's opinion of them has lowered having won only 3 of their last 10 games. That is good for us since they are now more affordable, when they should have been installed as -160 favorites! They not only have a lot more to play for than Detroit but they are simply the better team in nearly all aspects of the game. Carlos Correa made a rare fielding error last night and we believe he and his teammates will be more careful in this contest and won't take anything for granted. Afterall, Mike Trout and the Halos are still breathing down their necks and waiting for them to slip up. That is unlikely tonight since the Astros are at home and facing a right-handed pitcher.

This roster is 39-18 at Minute Maid Park this season and has hit righties hard all season. They score a large portion of their runs via home-runs and are capable ofhitting Verlander, who isn't the pitcher he used to be just as they did with another powerful righty that is past his prime in Alfredo Simon yesterday! Miguel Cabrera is back from the DL list but is likely to be rested in this game as they don't yet want him to play on back to back nights. Even if he does make an appearance as a pinch-hitter, his timing and rhythm will be off for the first few games and it'll take him awhile to back to his usual self. Look for his interntional teammate, Jose Altuve and company to get on base against Verlander and punish him with not only base-stealing speed but some powerful timely hits as well. Even if the veteran does outduel McHugh who has gotten great run support this season, the Tigers can hardly be assured of victory since their relievers have cost them plenty of games! Take the better overall team as they find a way to win this game.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Astris are 41-32 against right-handed starters.
  • Tigers have won only 2 of their last 7 road games.
  • Tigers have won only 1 of Verlander's 10 starts this season!
  • Astros are a perfect 11-0 since May at home after a win in which their opponent scored first!



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