Featured Video from Scott Reichel
When and where: August 21, 2019, Oakland Stadium, Oakland, CA, 10:00 PM ET
After knocking off the Houston Astros, the Oakland Athletics aim to take down another juggernaut when receiving a visit from the New York Yankees. Imagine the headlines if the A’s somehow toppled the Astros and Yankees in back-to-back outings. The Yankees, who are already coming off a four-game split with the Cleveland Indians, don’t even want to imagine it. They’ll try to shut down the upset talk on Wednesday with left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ taking the mound opposite of Oakland’s Mike Fiers.
Gardner’s ejection uniting the Yankees
The top of the Yankees dugout looks like a dinged-up mess. You can thank outfielder Brett Gardner for those ugly dents over what was once a pristine finish. You can also thank him for inadvertently sparking the team rallying cry the Yankees might have needed to close out the last leg of the season.
“He’s one of the leaders of this team,” Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge said on Sunday, via MLB.com, after Gardner was tossed from a game against the Indians for banging his bat on top of the dugout. “We do a lot of crazy things in that dugout. We’re showing support for him. He’s a leader of this stuff, so we’re supporting him with that. You’ll be seeing a lot more of that.”
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CC Sabathia and Yankees manager Aaron Boone were also ejected over the weekend, leading to the team’s embrace of their new nickname, “Savages in the Box.”
This is obviously a close-knit Yankees team, which explains why they’ve overtaken the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record (83-43) in baseball. They have won seven of their last nine games, including a recent four-game split with the Indians.
J.A. Happ will get the start in Wednesday’s road meeting with the A’s. The 36-year-old lefty is throwing a 5.40 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP on top of a 10-7 record. He sits at an even 2-2 in his last four outings with his most recent appearance on the mound coming against the Orioles, who he held to two runs in five innings.
A’s aren’t done challenging for the crown
If the Astros continue on the downward trend, it won’t be long before they have some company at the top of the AL West division. That was the statement made over the weekend as the A’s beat the reigning divisional champs in three consecutive outings. The elite defensive play was once again on full display from the A’s, who currently rank fifth in on-base percentage (.311). They don’t give up many opportunities for opposing teams to get runners across home plate.
Not many teams can challenge the Astros at the plate on offense and defense, but the A’s remain a live dark horse team capable of sneaking into the playoffs by wild card, or, as a surprise divisional winner. It would be foolish to automatically assume the divisional race is over with the A’s sitting less than 10 games out from evening things up.
Crazier things have happened late in the season.
Fiers (11-3) will have an opportunity to continue pushing the A’s in the winning direction on Wednesday when he starts at pitcher against the Yankees. The 34-year-old right-handed veteran is coming off a disappointing performance against the Astros, although his bullpen managed to bail him out in the end. Outside of that game, he is riding a two-game win streak over the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. He is also throwing a 3.46 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 153.1 innings on the mound this season.
- Athletics are 9-2 in Fiers’ last 11 starts during game 2 of a series.
- Athletics are 8-2 in Fiers’ last 10 home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
- Athletics are 16-4 in Fiers’ last 20 home starts.
- Athletics are 23-7 in Fiers’ last 30 starts on grass.
- Athletics are 35-17 in their last 52 overall.
- Athletics are 35-17 in their last 52 games on grass.
- Athletics are 72-35 in their last 107 home games.
- Yankees are 1-6 in the last 7 meetings in Oakland.
- Yankees are 2-2 straight up in last 4 games with Happ on the mound.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The A’s are rolling right now, and they could easily build on that momentum by taking down the Yankees right after they knocked off the Astros. Don’t expect the home team to put up with Gardner’s bat banging shenanigans, either. Their 40-24 record at Oakland Coliseum is the third-best home record in the American League.
There’s about to be “Trouble in the Box” for the savages.
Fiers pitching in a night game at home is typically a slam dunk win for the A’s. He is 8-1 and throwing a 3.04 ERA when playing at night and 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA when Oakland is the backdrop. That puts the A’s in a great position to hold up against the Yankees’ devastating batting lineup.
On the other end, it’s tough putting my faith in Happ after Father Time, loss of command or whatever you want to call it stole his ability to be reliable on the mound. To think, he was selected to the All-Star team a year ago. He looked nothing of the sort when he was getting lit up by the Toronto Blue Jays’ moribund offense in his most recent defeat, and he’ll look nothing of the sort when the A’s are doing the same to him on Wednesday. Give me the A’s to pull out another home win and put some pressure on the Yankees.
Prediction: Oakland Athletics (-116)
Full-Game Total Pick
Happ being on the mound will be a detriment to the Yankees’ defense heading into Oakland Coliseum, where the Yankees are 1-6 in the last six head-to-head meetings. The A’s have scored seven or more runs in three of their last five games against the Astros and San Francisco Giants. There is also too much talent in the Yankees’ lineup to expect them to simply go away quietly. I like the over betting total here.
Prediction: Over (9.5)