The Baltimore Orioles are in Oakland for game three of a four game series with the Athletics. Baltimore took game one of the series Thursday behind a strong performance by veteran starter Wade Miley. Miley went seven innings, giving up only one unearned run and striking out seven in the Orioles 7-2 victory. Game two was taken in come from behind fashion by the A’s. Trailing 4-3 heading into the eighth inning Oakland got a big, two run, ground rule double from Jed Lowrie to tie the game up and took the lead for good later in the inning when Chad Pinder hit a sacrifice fly to score Marcus Semien. Tonight’s matchup features two young but promising arms in the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy (11-8 4.15 ERA) facing off against the Athletics’ Sean Manaea (8-6 4.15 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM PSTD from Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California.
The Oakland Athletics have done this year what they have done for the last decade under head honcho Billy Beane. They do a great job acquiring and cultivating young talent, and then once those prospects finally show up on the big-league level and start to perform, he trades them away for more prospects. Never having won a World Series Championship, “Moneyball” seems to have been a better fit for the movies than a way to run a Major League team.
The A’s traded away pretty much everyone on the team that anybody else wanted. It started when they unloaded their bullpen to the Nationals by sending relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madsen to Washington. Then they traded away the ace of their starting pitching staff, Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees. And finally, it all culminated with the A’s trading away their lone All-Star this year, Yonder Alonso to the division rival Seattle Mariners. Nobody was safe in Oakland as just about any piece that wasn’t nailed down was sent packing. One of the few survivors with talent? Tonight’s starter Sean Manaea.
Manaea has shown a lot of promise in his two years in Oakland. With a career record of 15-15 and an ERA under four lifetime, many expect Manaea to be the next pitching star to come out of Oakland. The only reason that he wasn’t traded this year as he stills falls under mostly a prospect tag as he is just a second-year guy and isn’t as good as he will be yet. You can rest assure once he hits his max potential Billy Beane will flip him for a bunch of new projects and toys to play with.
Even with as much promise as Manaea has shown over the past two seasons he has hit his rough patches. Right now, he is stuck badly in a rut. His last two starts he has gone only 6.1 innings and giving up twelve runs. He was blown out of his last two starts before seeing the end of the fourth inning by the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants, not exactly a couple of high powered teams.
The Baltimore Orioles have spent most of the season trying to convince everyone that they are actual contenders in the American league and after making a couple of savvy moves at the trade deadline they find themselves just that, contenders. Coming in to play today the Orioles find themselves only two games back of the Minnesota Twins for the second wild card spot in the American League.
At the deadline, the Orioles made what I at the time called a couple of sneaky good moves. They didn’t make a lot of waves but I anticipated that they could end up paying off big, and they have. The first move was picking up former number one overall pick Tim Beckham from Tampa Bay. Beckham had spent most of the last decade fighting for big league playing time and finally broke through this year for a spot as the everyday short stop for the Rays. He showed signs of greatness with the glove and significant pop as he smashed twelve homers and thirty-six RBI in just two months as the regular starter. So, what did Tampa do? They gave him away for a box of rocks to make more playing time for Brad Miller. What has Beckham done in his eleven games for the Orioles? Oh, he has just hit .500 with three homers and six RBI.
The other move was picking up former American League rookie of the year pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson spent the last two years getting rocked in the National League but showed a lot of promise in the American League before that. Since he has been back in the American League with the Orioles? He has pitched thirteen innings and given up only three runs, great production out of a guy that was picked up for next to nothing. And that’s not even Hellickson’s biggest contribution. Manager Buck Showalter used that trade to give some much need rest to young arm Dylan Bundy, and that move has paid off in spades.
Bundy, himself once a former first round pick, has had an up and down run over the last couple of seasons. However, since going to a bigger rotation and getting more rest, Bundy has been lights out in his last two starts. Going fifteen innings, giving up only two earned runs and striking out fifteen, Bundy is starting to look a lot like a guy that deserved to be drafted in the first round. More importantly for the suddenly competing Orioles? They have won Bundy’s last four starts.
The opening line for this game had Oakland has small favorites, and it would appear lots of people saw what I am seeing, and the line has now shifted to the Orioles as small favorites. That’s OK though as I think this is still a great spot for the Orioles. They badly need a win, and they are sending out their refreshed blue chipper in Dylan Bundy, who is coming off a ten strike out a masterpiece in his last start, to face off against Manaea who just got ran out of the ballpark against two of the worst offenses in all of baseball. Sounds like a no brainer to me and a very small price to lay at just -108. I suggest getting your action in early as this line could easily close out at -130 or more as it was just a bad opening number.