For the first time in recent Major League Baseball history, two wildcards will be awarded to the best placed teams in both conferences. This should in theory alleviate the pressure on the competing teams, but this is far from the truth in the American League. Tampa Bay is leading the race for the time being, and needs to win the decisive match of the series against their closest rival.

Match: Tampa Bay vs Oakland

Bet: Over 7,5 runs

Odds: bet365 2.00

On Thursday when the opening game took place, both teams had an excellent record with seven victories in the last 10 games and things remained unchanged after the first two rounds unfolded. The A’s made the most of having Shields on the mound and took the lead, only to be tied by Oakland in the second match of the series. They need to capitalize on Brandon McCarthy’s recent struggles and force him to retire early, while hoping that their own starting pitcher with last for at least seven innings.

The race of the frontrunners

With neither team having reasonable chances of winning the division, securing the wildcard is the only way of playing baseball in October. Brandon McCarthy now has good reasons to expect his team to keep him in the rotation, given the fact that Bartolo Colon has been suspended for 50 games due to substance abuse. On the bad side, Brandon hasn’t been sharp in his last outing as a reliever and conceded a stunning six runs in only three innings. It is a terrible performance for an otherwise reliable pitcher who has a 3.16 ERA in 11 games and six winning decisions.

McCarthy is clearly vulnerable against players such as Prince Fielder, Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton but Oakland has a secret weapon of their own. Jonny Gomes used to play for Tampa Bay, but he has no hesitations in hammering his former teams or the pitchers that were his teammates. Gomes didn’t score in the opening game, but except for that fixture he’s been a nightmare for the Rays’ starters and relievers and made a decisive contribution in scoring the winning runs last night. He’ll give Jeremy Hellickson a run for his money and will force the hosts to provide him with more runs of support if he is to win a decision.

BetPal Tip:

Bet365 chose a line of 7 runs for the game totals, but savvy punters shouldn’t hesitate to tinker a little with these values and push for the Over 7,5 runs. The advantage is that for giving up a potential return on the investment in case of exactly 7 runs being scored, they gain a massive 0.15 increase in the odds which makes the risk worth taking.