After finishing 14 games under .500 last year, the Oakland A's ended the first half of this season at 43-43. Can Oakland begin a playoff push as it starts its second half Friday night with the opener of a three-game series in Minnesota?
A's against Twins:
Oakland ended the first half of the season on a 6-1 run,
taking two of three games from Seattle last weekend after sweeping three games
from Boston, to get back to the .500 mark.
So the A's, at 43-43, are in third place in the AL West,
nine games back of division-leading Texas. But Oakland also trails Baltimore by
just 2.5 games in the race for the second American League Wild-Card playoff
Minnesota, meanwhile, lost four of its last five games going
into the break, losing the last two games of a series in Detroit then dropping
two of three in Texas. They are, however, 26-23 over their last 49 games. So
the Twins, at 36-47, sit in last place in the AL Central, 11 games behind first-place
Minnesota will send Francisco Liriano (3-7, 5.08) to the
mound Friday night (8:10 pm Eastern) against rookie right-hander AJ Griffin
(0-0, 1.50) for Oakland.
Lefty Liriano is just five-for-14 on quality starts this
season, and the Twins are 6-8 in games he's started. But in his most recent
outing last Friday at Texas Liriano gave up just one run on five hits through 6
2/3 innings, although he did walk six guys. Also, four of his QS have come in
his last six outings.
On the season Liriano has given up 74 hits in 83 innings,
but he's also walked 50, which is way too many.
Liriano has started once this season against Oakland and
picked up a win, throwing six innings of three-hit, shut-out ball, walking two
and striking out nine in a 4-0 Twinkies victory back on May 30. Last year, in
his only outing against the A's, he gave up two ER on six hits through seven
innings of another Minnesota win.
Meanwhile, Griffin is a perfect three-for-three so far in
his ML career in quality starts, and the A's are 2-1 in the games he's started.
In his ML debut three weeks ago against the Giants Griffin gave up two earned
runs on three hits in six innings; then he held the Rangers scoreless on two
hits through six innings; and most recently, nine days ago, he limited the Red
Sox to one ER on three hits in six innings.
So so far as a Major Leaguer Griffin has allowed three ER on
eight hits in 18 innings, walked five and struck out 11.
This will be his first-ever start against Minnesota.
Earlier this year Griffin, pitching for AA Midland and AAA
Sacramento, compiled a 2.66 ERA, allowed 72 hits in 95 innings, walked 14 and
whiffed 84. So this kid has had a pretty good year so far.
Lines and Trends
As of early Friday morning the best MLB odds we could find on
the Twins was the -130 at 5Dimes, while the best price we could find on Oakland
was the +128 being offered at Matchbook.
Minnesota could also be gotten at +156 on the run line at
Finally, most online baseball betting shops were listing an
'over/under' of 7.5 on Friday night's game, but some had it pegged at eight.
The A's are 31-52 on the 'over/unders' this season.
A's against Twins
In the only previous meeting this season between these teams
Minnesota swept three games from Oakland back in May also at Target Field by
scores of 5-4, 3-2 and 4-0. Two of those games stayed 'under' on the totals.
A's against Twins
On the personnel front the Twins might get some good news
Friday as closer Matt Capps is expected to return from spending three weeks on
the DL because of a sore shoulder.
Over in the other dugout Oakland OF Yoenis Cespedes jammed a
thumb last weekend, as his status for Friday's game is uncertain. Bettors might
want to check the lineup card on this game before getting down.
Free MLB Pick for
Oakland has been playing some good ball, and SP Griffin
still has an advantage over teams that haven't yet faced him. So we'll go with
the A's for our free MLB pick for Friday.
MLB Pick: Oakland A's