By: Jack O’Keefe
Fresh off their weekend series at Camden Yards, the three game series moves west as the Orioles take on the Athletics in Oakland. The Orioles put an end to the 13-game winning streak for the A’s on Sunday and they will have their eyes set on evening the 6-game series by winning two out of three in Oakland. The Orioles will send out their pitching ace, John Means, while Oakland will use Mike Fiers for the first time this season. What can we expect to see between these two on the last day of April? Read below to find out!
Money Line: BAL +118, OAK -136
Run Line: BAL +1.5 (-170), OAK -1.5 (+140)
Total: 7.5 (O -115, U -105)
First Pitch: 8:40 PM CST, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Baltimore Orioles (11-14)
After winning on Sunday against Oakland, the Orioles kept the good vibes rolling by winning the four-game series opener against the Yankees on Monday. The Yankees got their revenge, outscoring the Orioles 12-1 in the next two games. Baltimore salvaged the fourth and final game of the series, thanks to a walk-off sacrifice fly by Cedric Mullins. Mullins was a fairly dependable bat for Baltimore last season, but he has taken a leap in production so far in the month of April. Mullins is batting .340 on the season, along with three homeruns and seven RBIs. Mullins had three homeruns in 48 games all of last season.
Along with Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini and Maikel Franco have been two nice additions to the lineup for Baltimore this season. Mancini missed all of 2020 following treatments for colon cancer, and Franco was still a member of the Kansas City Royals. Mancini has belted five homeruns and drove in 17 RBIs already on the young season, while Franco has also driven in 17 RBIs on the campaign. Outside of these three bats, the Orioles have certainly struggled to find consistency in their offense. To no surprise, the Orioles are 26th in runs this year (91) and 22nd in team batting average (.224).
The Orioles do have a budding star though in their pitching rotation. No, I do not mean Matt Harvey, although he certainly has turned things around in Baltimore, but I am talking instead about John Means. Means was an all-star for Baltimore back in 2019, going 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA, but he hit a bit of a wall in 2020. Perhaps it was the effects of a shortened season, but Means was hit hard last year, going 2-4 with a 4.53 ERA. His WAR dropped from 4.5 in 2019 to 0.9 in 2020. 2021 has looked much better for the southpaw Kansas native, who has a 2-0 record with a 1.50 ERA. He certainly had no issues pitching against Oakland last Sunday, where he went 6.1 innings and held the A’s to just two hits and one earned run.
Oakland Athletics (16-10)
Chris Bassitt went toe-to-toe with the rookie Shane McClanahan yesterday afternoon, which was enough for the A’s to split the four game series. Bassitt went six strong for Oakland, punching out nine batters on the day and allowing, yep you guessed it, two runs. I think I am going to start calling him Chris “Deuces” Bassitt. The nine strikeouts were a season high for the right-hander, who now has 25 strikeouts over his last 18 innings of work. Petit and Diekman worked clean innings in the seventh and eighth inning, respectively. Lou Trivino locked it down in the ninth inning, picking up his fourth save of the season.
The A’s benefited from another hot day at the dish from their man at the hot corner, Matt Chapman. Chappy was 2-for-4 on the day, driving in two of the three runs on the day for the A’s. He is still hitting below .200 on the season; however, Chapman is hitting 4-for-8 in his last two games, snapping a dreadful 2-for-37 slump. He has a long way to go to reach his usual .245 career batting average, but things look to be heading once again in the right direction.
Mike Fiers missed the start of the season due to hip inflammation issues, but the veteran right-hander will make his 2021 A’s debut Friday night at the Coliseum. Fiers was consistent for the A’s last season. The A’s were 8-3 on regular season games started by Fiers, and he was particularly sharper on the road for Oakland instead of at home. Fiers had a 4-2 record with a 3.72 ERA on the road, so it may have been nice to have him open the 2021 campaign away from Oakland, but I expect him to be sharp and on his command tonight. Back in 2019, when the MLB last played a full 162-game season, Fiers was 9-2 at home with a 2.90 ERA, so he is more than capable of rekindling that success once again. Baltimore has limited experience against the right-hander, with a combined team batting average of .250 (6-for-27).
Analysis and Prediction
I see a significant amount of value on the Orioles moneyline tonight. John Means has tremendous upside, and the Orioles have been consistently hitting the ball and generating runs lately. The A’s offense scuffled a bit during the three-game stint in Tampa Bay, and I am not sure really how effective Fiers will be on his first start of the campaign. Means pitched well in his last outing, against Oakland, and I think we will see a similar pitching line tonight close to what we saw on Sunday. It will be a fairly low scoring game, but I think Baltimore will come out on top. I am rolling with the Orioles moneyline as my best bet tonight.
Jack’s 2021 MLB picks: (8-8)