A torrid second half and home field has likely factored into the Oakland Athletics being the betting favorite for the American League Wild Card Game, but they face a pitcher who has had their number.
The Athletics are the -134 favorite (bet $134 to win $100) on the MLB odds with the Tampa Bay Rays coming back at +124 (bet $100 to win $124), while there is a 7.5-run total for Wednesday’s game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Athletics are 11-6 in their last 17 home games against teams from the Rays’ division, the AL East, while Tampa Bay is 9-8 in its last 17 away games against the AL West, with the total going OVER in six of the Rays’ last nine away games against AL West teams at betting sites.
Home teams are 4-3 in the AL Wild Card Game since its inception in 2012. Oakland is also 1-14 in their last 15 postseason games when they had a chance to advance to the next round.
Tampa Bay, which earned the second wild card with a 96-66 regular-season finish, will send out right-hander Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA, 11.1 SO/9) for this do-or-done game. In two starts against Oakland this season, Morton limited the Athletics to one run on six hits and struck out 13 of the 45 batters he faced. He also had an AL-best 0.7 home runs allowed per nine innings pitched, which might help against a lineup with seven players who had at least 20 home runs, co-led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman with 36 apiece.
The Rays are 12-8 in their last 20 away games as an underdog of +120 to +140 on the moneyline, according to the OddsShark MLB Database.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin, whose team’s 97-65 record included going 60-29 over the final 3½ months of the season, had not named a starting pitcher as of Tuesday morning. The choice would seem to be between righthander Mike Fiers (15-4, 3.90 ERA, 6.1 SO/9) and lefthander Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 ERA, 9.1 SO/9 in five September starts since returning from shoulder surgery).
The Athletics are 14-3 in Fiers’ last 17 home starts, but he is 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA in seven career starts against the Rays. In contrast, the Athletics are 8-2 in Manaea’s last 10 home starts and he is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Rays.
The Athletics are 11-9 in their last 20 home games as a favorite of -130 to -150 on the moneyline. The total went OVER in 13 of those matchups.
The Houston Astros, who had the most wins in MLB during the regular season, will face the wild-card game winner in the American League Division Series. The New York Yankees have home-field advantage against the Minnesota Twins in the other ALDS matchup.