May 12, 2021

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Toronto Blue Jays vs Oakland Athletics: Preview & Best Bet – 5/4/21

By Jack O’Keefe

I was on the shelf for a few days recovering from my second COVID-19 vaccine dose, but I am back to 100% and ready to provide you all with another profitable Tuesday on the diamond. The Blue Jays and A’s had a close game to open the series, as Oakland came out on top 5-4. Neither starter came with their “overwhelming good stuff”, but they both pitched serviceable and turned things over to their bullpen. Advantage Oakland, all day. Cole Irvin gets the ball for Oakland in the second stanza, while Anthony Kay will oppose him for Toronto. What can we expect in Game 2 of this three-game series? Read below to find out!

Money Line: TOR +108, OAK -127

Run Line: TOR +1.5 (-200), OAK -1.5 (+165)

Total: 9 (O +102, U -122)

First Pitch: 8:40 PM CST, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA

Toronto Blue Jays (14-13)

Toronto came into Oakland fresh off a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. The Blue Jays entered Monday night a mere 1.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Jays looked to be in a bit of trouble early on Monday night, as Steven Matz quickly allowed the Oakland batters to generate three runs off four base hits in the first two innings of the ball game. Matz settled in after the rocky bottom second inning, and looked to be cruising his way through the lineup until he met Ramon Laureano for his second at-bat. Laureano grounded into a fielder’s choice in the first inning, but he made sure to let Steven Matz know who owns the Coliseum in his second at-bat. Laureano crushed a 432 ft. homerun to left center, which promptly untied the 3-3 affair. Matz went five innings and allowed seven hits and five runs on the day. After allowing only three runs in his first three starts this season (18.1 innings pitched), the veteran right-hander has now allowed 14 runs in his last three starts (13.2 innings pitched).

The Blue Jay bats continued to see the ball well on Monday night, as they generated nine hits and four runs on the evening. Vlad Guerrero Jr. continued his absurd hitting terror, as he went 3-for-4 on the night. His batting average now stands at a robust .356 on the season, which is the fifth best batting average on the season. The former Oakland Athletic, Marcus Semien, made a return to the bay, the first time with an opposing team. He went 1-for-3 with a walk on the evening. His .231 batting average is slightly below what Blue Jay fans had in mind when they acquired the talented shortstop this winter. Another bat the Blue Jays hope to get going soon is the former Houston Astro, George Springer. Springer has been hampered by injuries this season, so once he gets back to a routine number of at-bats per week, we can expect to see his .200 batting average rise tremendously.

 Anthony Kay gets the ball for Toronto this evening, another Stony Brook native following the start of Steven Matz. Kay started once for Toronto this season, and he was hit around pretty hard by the Kansas City Royals back in mid-April. The official pitching line was 3.1 innings pitched, six hits allowed and the Royals tagged him for four runs on the day. Kay was used primarily as a long relief bullpen option for the Blue Jays last season, so do not expect him to work anymore than four innings tonight. This will be Kay’s first pitching appearance against the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland Athletics (18-12)

Ramon Laureano has been wearing his super hero cape for the A’s over the span of the last 48 hours. From robbing DJ Stewart of a potential home run Sunday in the top of the eighth inning, to smacking a two run shot in the following half inning to untie the game… What more could he do? How about another two-run homerun to give the A’s the lead for a second day in a row! The Gold Glove center fielder has a nice six-game hit streak going, along with homering in three straight ball games for the A’s. Along with Laureano, Matt Olson has been finding his groove at the dish, hitting .313 over the last seven days. Olson was forced to miss two games against Baltimore last weekend due to an injury to his eye in batting practice. The talented first baseman did not miss a beat when he returned to the lineup Sunday and Monday, picking up three hits on Sunday and a walk on Monday night.

Frankie Montas had a similar outing for Oakland last night as he did in his previous outing against the Rays last Tuesday. The veteran right-hander tossed another six inning three earned run performance for the A’s. His ERA still stands at a tall 5.87, but more outings like the one he had last night will help lower the ERA. Lou Trivino appeared in the eighth inning after picking up a save the previous day against Baltimore. It further accentuates that Bob Melvin is not fully “committed” to one closer. Jake Diekman locked it down in the ninth for the A’s, picking up his third save of the season. Lou Trivino nor Jake Dieman thought they would get many cracks, if any, at the ninth inning with the off-season addition of Trevor Rosenthal. Injuries are a part of the game though, and it takes a “next man up” mentality to be a club with a winning mindset.   

The surprising Cole Irvin looks to continue his pitching success on Tuesday night. Irvin picked up a tough loss on Wednesday, but the lefty had his good stuff working against the Rays lineup. The California native has worked into the fifth inning in four out of his five starts this season, surprising being one of the more dependable arms in the rotation this season. Irvin allowed four runs in back-to-back starts to open the season, but he has only yielded three runs in his last three outings for Oakland (19.1 innings pitched). Hopefully the A’s can give Irvin a little more run support than he has received in his last two starts (three runs total).

Analysis and Prediction:

I am going to go ahead and back the A’s moneyline as my best bet tonight. Cole Irvin has been great this season for BoMel’s squad, and I believe the offense will do just enough to get themselves a sizable lead with the Jay’s Anthony Kay on the bump.  I am not one to totally invest in the trends, but they are certainly pointing in the A’s direction for Tuesday night’s matchup. The A’s have won each of their last eight games after a home win the night before. The Jays are sending a pitcher who was rocked by Kansas City a few weeks ago, so I feel like the A’s should be able to notch a few runs off the starter. As we saw last night as well, the game can be virtually over by the sixth inning for a team, given the depth the A’s have in their bullpen. Take the A’s moneyline this evening as your best bet. 

Jack’s 2021 MLB picks: (9-8)