Tuesday night is all about baseball. The new college football season enjoys a few days rest before returning on Thursday (Pittsburgh at Cincinnati) while the NFL kicks off tomorrow with the Cowboys at Giants. That leaves bettors starting the new post-Labor Day week with baseball, baseball, baseball.
With the end of season less than a month from now, the Wild Card picture in the American League is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Tonight sees a six card slate of teams involved in the postseason hunt, plenty for you to wager on.
New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays
New York (76-58, 35-30 road) dropped last night’s opener to Tampa Bay (74-61, 36-30 home) 4-3 despite the return of Alex Rodriguez. The defeat, combined with a Baltimore victory, now has the Yankees just one game ahead of the Orioles for the lead in the AL East. Meanwhile, Tampa is just 2 ½ games back. A victory for the Rays here will be a bonus for both trailing teams, and will put the Yanks seriously on the rocks.
Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.90 ERA) pitches for the Yankees – who have lost 10 of the last 16 – after two disappointing outings against the White Sox and Indians that saw him pitch less than five innings both games. Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.39 ERA) goes for the Rays. He’s 4-0 in his last six starts and is a threat to win any game.
New York is +1 ½ point underdogs at -180 odds, but it looks safer to take the Rays in this one. The over/under is set at 8 ½ runs. Take the over; New York is averaging nearly eight runs over the past 10 games while Tampa is averaging nearly seven in that same period.
Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore (75-59, 38-29) will look to strengthen its current position as second Wild Card with a second successive victory over Toronto (60-74, 33-33 home).
Baltimore lefty Zach Britton (4-1, 4.80 ERA) lost last time out against the Yankees but he’ll be marginal favorite over Carlos Villanueva (7-4, 3.10) on the grounds that Toronto’s offense has been spluttering since Jose Bautista returned to IR list. Take the -105 moneyline in favor of the Orioles, alongside the under (at -120) for 8 ½ runs; these teams aren’t likely to light the scoreboard up, as seen by Monday night’s 4-0 scoreline.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Oakland Athletics
Good play of late has the Angels (72-63, 36-34 road) back in discussions for the Wild Card. Oakland (76-58, 42-28) currently leads the race and is 3 ½ games up on Los Angeles.
The Angels took Monday night’s game 8-3 with Vernon Wells and Chris Ianetta – the bottom of the lineup – combining for five RBIs. Zack Greinke (12-5, 3.82 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. He’s 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA since joining the Halos from Milwaukee. He’ll be up against Jarrod Parker (9-7, 3.72 ERA) who has pitched three solid games on the bounce.
Los Angeles is favorite (-1 ½ at +135 odds) but Oakland’s -155 moneyline could be worth a bet; the A’s have been playing tough and will be looking to put distance between themselves and their California rivals.
Elsewhere: Detroit hosts Cleveland looking to once again to go into a tie with Chicago on top of the AL Central. It will take a Tigers win and a White Sox loss at home to Minnesota. Both open as favorites and it’s hard to see past two wins here. Texas, meanwhile, continues its charge to the AL West title with the second of four in Kansas City, a game in which the Rangers are evens to win.
Meanwhile: On the other side of the AL/NL divide, things are equally as tough. Cincinnati is all but assured of the NL Central but everything else is up for grabs. St. Louis (73-62, 41-26 home) is ½ game ahead of Los Angeles for the final Wild Card slot so tonight’s game against the Mets (64-71, 34-36 road) is a must-win. St. Louis is favorite (-1 ½ at +135) and looks like the better bet. The Dodgers (73-63, 38-31 home) meanwhile host San Diego (62-74, 29-41 road) and look set to cash in on their favored status (-1 ½ at -110). Tuesday looks like it’s worth sticking with expectations in the National League.