Manager Ozzie Guillen’s first place club makes the final stop on their 10-game road in the “other” city by the bay in Oakland. Chicago (52-42, +8 units) is 3-4 thus far on this sojourn and begins the weekend with a two game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Since June 9, baseball fans and online sports betting fans alike have been amazed by the White Sox turnaround that shows them 28-9 and up +20.82 units. Chicago visits a place that was for a long time as bad as the Metrodome in Minnesota for them, but has signs of no longer as being so gruesome.
Starting in 2001, the White Sox were 6-27 at Oakland over a seven-year stretch; however the last two years they have headed the other direction with four wins in six tries. The Athletics will attempt to reverse that trend and return to supremacy over the Sox this weekend.
Oakland (48-47, +2.1) has matched their best streak of the year, winning seven of previous eight, due to scoring more runs and receiving solid pitching. The A’s are tallying 6.6 runs per contest, while permitting 2.34 earned runs. This has moved Oakland closer to second place Los Angeles and within seven games in the loss column of front-running Texas.
In spite of the top shelf pitching, the A’s ace hasn’t been as much help as presumed. All-Star Trevor Cahill (9-3, 3.19 ERA) is 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA over his last three outings, after reeling of seven straight wins and will look to get back on the beam. The talented right-hander and mates are 12-4 in his starts. SportBet.com has Oakland as -136 money line favorites and they are 9-2 in Cahill’s last 11 starts at McAfee Coliseum.
Mark Buehrle (8-8, 4.18) will provide the opposition for A’s hitters and their color scheme makes the veteran left-hander a little skittish. In his career, he is 3-12 with a 4.11 ERA vs. Oakland, including 0-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 10 career starts on the road. In fact, Buehrle and the White Sox are 4-14 in his road starts against clubs with positive records. The opener is on WGN at 10:05 Eastern.
Game 1 Edge: Oakland
The second game of the series is a FOX afternoon affair and Chicago will again unleash one of the big pitching surprises in baseball. Freddy Garcia (9-3, 4.37) was a pitcher the White Sox front office hoped could be an adequate fifth starter and chew up innings, while being a game or two over .500. Instead, Garcia is one of the best pitching bets in baseball at +9.37 units. The 35-year old right-hander no longer has the same bite on his pitches from his youthful days in Seattle, but with a sound shoulder this season, he’s pitched out of trouble continually, inducing ground ball outs. His ERA has fallen over a run since May 23 (5.68) and the White Sox are 12-1 when he takes the mound against AL West squads.
Vin Mazzaro (5-2, 3.50) toes the rubber for Oakland in the second game of the series. Mazzaro’s repertoire is built around a two-seam and four-seam low 90’s fastballs, with the former having excellent sink action. He’s a mostly pitch-to-contact hurler and if his pitches are up slightly in the hitting zone, even ground balls scoot thru holes quicker. Dating back to last season, the A’s are 2-7 in Mazzaro’s home starts and they have failed to register a victory in previous four contests against winning opponents.
Game 2 Edge: Chicago
As is the case with baseball today, bullpens play a key component day and day out. For Chicago, skipper Guillen has seen enough of closer Bobby Jenks high-wire act after blowing consecutive saves chances, sending his ERA to 5.09. “All options are open now,” Guillen said. “I get paid to win games. … I put the guy in with the best shot.” J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton are strong choices, with Putz riding franchise-record 25 consecutive scoreless appearances, holding opponents to a .140 average during that time span.
They may be called upon with Dan Hudson (1-0, 5.06) the starting pitcher to close the road trip. Hudson has mid-90’s heat, but his curveball has cement-mixer tendencies and can get hit hard. The White Sox began the weekend 20-10 in day baseball.
At press time, Ben Sheets (4-9, 4.53) was thought to be the Game 3 starter; however Oakland manager Bob Geren had not confirmed that. Whoever takes the ball from Geren likely won’t finish the game, but as long as the manager can get to Jerry Blevins and Andrew Bailey, he feels confident he can win the game. Blevins has reeled off 12 consecutive scoreless outings dating back to June 25, while the closer Bailey is 20 of 23 in save opportunities, with mini-me ERA of 1.56. Oakland can better the Sox record under natural sun light at 22-10.