Texas failed to create some breeding space at the top of the West division, but Oakland players have mixed feelings about the Rangers’ struggles. On one hand they rejoice because the distance separating them from the top has been reduced to three victories, on the other hand the Angels have just leapfrogged them. Winning the series against Tampa is a must, but also easier said than done.

Match: Oakland Athletics vs Tampa Bay Rays

Bet: Over 7,5 runs

Odds: bet365 1.90

Oakland’s 19-5 record in July is the best in MLB, but after losing three out of four games they are hard-pressed to regain their pace. Facing the Rays and their shaky pitcher can help, because Alex Cobb has lost six out of seven decisions and posted an ERA of 6.25. His overall earned run average is slightly better but still unsatisfying and given the fact that the A’s scored more runs lately than in any other month of 2012, Alex will have it difficult to last 7 innings.

Reigniting the offensive

Oakland won the opening game in overtime and lost the second without scoring a run, which is a clear sign that their red-hot bats are going cold. Warming them up shouldn’t be too difficult against Cobb, but they have their own concerns about their starter, as Jarrod Parker is one streaky pitcher. He allowed more than 6 runs per match during the last four starts, but on two occasions his teammates kept him afloat.

Yoenis Cespedes was shut down last night by Shields for just the second time in eighteen games, but he can look with confidence ahead. Both him and Coco Crips have an excellent track record against the Rays and with Cobb still trying to shake off a leg injury, both should add their name to the scoreboard. They will be opposed by Upton, Desmond and Fuld and all of them scored last night in a dazzling offensive display. Any of them can replicate their performance against the stressed Parker, so both Cespedes and Crisp should step up their game.

BetPal Tip:

The series doesn’t look too good for Oakland who failed to capitalize on the Rangers’ consecutive defeats and so far they don’t seem to have gotten Tampa Bay’s number. Solid pitching saved them in the opening game but it was also the pitching that sent then crashing in the second and the final confrontation is more likely to resemble that slump. Risky as it is to back Oakland, it is much safer to bet on more than 7,5 runs to be scored at odds of 1.90 courtesy of bet365.