Oakland has always struggled with budget issues and those who have seen the movie Moneyball know all too well that they had to overcome financial obstacles en route to performance. This year they are the pleasant surprise of the American League, and with just one game before the All-Star’s match they are leading the Western division. They have a narrow lead over Texas Rangers but a favorable context, as their rivals will have the unsavory task of beating Detroit at home, with Justin Verlander on the mound.
Meanwhile, they are facing an equally tough opponent as Boston has the best record in MLB and is one of the best traveling teams in the league. The Red Sox took the first game of the series by four runs to two but failed to replicate their performance in the second game, going down 0-3. Both teams can be proud of their starting pitchers as a total of nine runs were scored in two games, with the relievers deserving some of the credit.
One question that is on everybody’s lips is how things will unfold in the decisive game, when veteran Bartolo Colon will face an inexperienced starting pitcher. Brandon Workman is 15 years younger but this won’t be an advantage tonight especially after the rookie suffered a brutal beating in his previous outings. He played as a reliever and was the dark horse in Boston’s bullpen, escalating his earned-run average to 13.50 which is nothing short of a disaster for the leading Red Sox.
Despite his struggles, the visiting team will give him the ball and the chance to prove his worth as a starting pitcher. Boston is taking quite a leap of faith with Brandon and the young pitcher will be under a lot of pressure, knowing that based on his performance the Red Sox might return home with a won or lost series. He was lucky that his teammates provided him with all the runs of support he needed in the 11-4 victory over Seattle, but he will need to take responsibility for his action tonight.
Unlike the Mariners who struggled to score, Oakland is lethal when allowed to take an early lead and we probably make every run count. Bartolo Colon overcame a lot of adversity and returned after spending an entire season away from baseball, following a 50 games ban for substance abuse. He is an aging pitcher but despite all of these recent obstacles, he emerged stronger and is one of the few who won 12 decisions in 2013. By winning tonight, he could tie Detroit’s Scherzer for the lead, a feat of strength that St. Louis’s Adam Wainwright is also aiming.
Risk-averse players would be right to back Oakland for a straight victory tonight, but those who are not afraid to aim higher have a better alternative. They should trust the A’s to cover the spread and win by at least two rounds, because the odds for this outcome are in the 2.30 area. For a detailed preview of the match check out http://sports.yahoo.com/news/red-sox-athletics-preview-063305827–mlb.html.