By Jack O’Keefe
All good things end at some point. For Arizona, the six game win streak died at the Coliseum Wednesday night. I, like the Diamondbacks, are looking to get back to our winning ways on Thursday. Can Oakland pick up the win and officially split the series with the Diamondbacks? The A’s will be throwing Sean Manaea and Alex Young will counter for the Diamondbacks. What is the best bet for Thursday’s showdown? Read below to find out!
Money Line: ARI +135, OAK -155
Run Line: ARI +1.5 (-145), OAK -1.5 (+125)
Total: 9.0 (O +105, U -125)
First Pitch: 8:40 CST, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Arizona Diamondbacks (13-12)
Good news? Merrill Kelly picked up seven striking outs last night. Bad news? It was the shortest outing for Kelly and most runs he allowed this season. Merrill Kelly pitched five innings last night, during which he surrendered five hits and four runs. His 1.71 ERA expanded to 2.59 after last night’s performance. Not a bad ERA by any means still, but he was certainly not the Merrill Kelly the Padres saw last week. To his defense, it is often impossible to win a ballgame when you are only able to muster one run on the board. The Diamondbacks were held in check at the plate Wednesday scoring one run in the eight off a Starling Marte sacrifice fly. Much like the A’s have done all season, the Diamondbacks found themselves blundered and unable to cash in with runners in scoring position last night (0 for 8). After Kelly’s departure, the bullpen held its ground, with Kevin Ginkel pitching a scoreless inning and Taylor Clarke going two innings with no runs allowed. The aforementioned Marte was hitless last night, bringing an end to his modest eight game hit streak. The other Marte, Ketel Marte, had two hits last night, which has boosted his batting average in the season to .337, 14th best in baseball. The 35 homerun and 118 RBI man for the Diamondbacks a year ago, Eduardo Escobar, has had a tough go of it in 2020. He was hitless again last night, causing his average to drop to an abysmal .186 with only two homeruns on the season. Based on this pace, he would project to hit 14 homeruns (generous rounding) on a 162 game stint. Quite the drop off you could say. The Diamondbacks will turn to the lefty Alex Young on Thursday. Young pitched 4.1 innings and allowed one run in his last start against San Diego. He will look to work on lowering his 3.86 ERA against Oakland, a team he has yet to face in his professional career.
Oakland Athletics (17-8)
What makes the markings of a true competitor? For Jesus Luzardo, that would be spinning the best game of his young career to put to rest his clunker previous outing. Luzardo had it working Wednesday night, going 6.1 innings and limited the Diamondbacks to four hits with no runs on the board. Oh, and he only struck out seven in that span. No biggie. Hats off to Jesus! The young lefty is now 2-0 on the campaign with a 3.67 ERA. His 1.37 WHIP is the 8th best in baseball. While Luzardo did not have an abundance of offense behind him Wednesday night, he had just enough for the A’s to cruise to a 4-1 win back home. Robbie Grossman picked up a two-run double in the first followed by a Mark Canha two-run homerun in the 3rd, giving the A’s a 4-0 early on. Both bullpens were great last night. The A’s used Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks. Soria gave up one run in the eight, but that was the only run allowed by either team’s bullpen in the game. After going 0-for-9 in their first two games against the Diamondbacks, the A’s finally broke out of their slump going 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position last night. Sean Manaea will get the ball Thursday to close out the series with Arizona. Manaea pitched well his last outing, going five innings and he allowed three runs to the San Francisco Giants. It was the lone outing this season where Manaea lasted longer than five innings. It was a nightmare type of start last time Manaea faced the Diamondbacks in 2018. He allowed six runs on 3.2 innings pitched. If the A’s hope to split the series, they need Manaea to pitch something more like his last start and not the one he had back in 2018 against Arizona.
Analysis and Prediction:
I honestly do not trust either starting pitcher with enough confidence to back one over the other. I do think the A’s have the stronger bullpen, so my lean would be towards the A’s. I have been sort of in a funk though with picking winners straight up, so I am turning back to my bread and butter: over and under. Both pitchers have seen a great deal of runs scored in the games they have pitched this season. In their last three outings, the over has hit in all three games for both pitchers. The lowest total of the six games was at 10 runs. The A’s will put some runs on the board, and I think Thursday will be a good rebound opportunity for the Arizona bats to make up for the one run performance on Wednesday night. I am going to back the O9 Runs (+105) in today’s contest.
Jack’s 2020 MLB picks: (10-6; all picks are one unit) A $100 bettor has a profit of $196.