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Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics – Major League Baseball – Betting Preview and Prediction – July 18, 2014

Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics – Major League Baseball – Betting Preview and Prediction – July 18, 2014

With the All-Star break drawing to a close, the top teams will resume their quest for glory on Friday and none can be much bigger than the showdown between AL division leaders Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles.

Read on for more analysis on this crucial American League matchup. Meanwhile, you can read our breakdown of the impact of the Home Run Derby curse on hitters who took part in the event, and find other game previews here as the second half of the season gets underway.

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Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics, Major League Baseball, Betting Preview and Prediction

Where: Coliseum, Oakland, California

When:  Friday, July 18, 10:05 PM ET

Line: Baltimore Orioles (+150) vs. Oakland Athletics (-170); total: 7.5 – see all MLB lines

Betting on the Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles were on fire as they entered the All-Star break, winning ten of their last 13 games to take control of a volatile AL East division. The Orioles established a 52-42 mark at the break, four games ahead of nearest division contender Toronto Blue Jays and five ahead of the suddenly reeling New York Yankees.

[sc:MLB240banner ]Key to the Orioles’ sudden rise to the top of the division has been their excellent hitting. They are the fourth-best in the league at the halfway point when it comes to batting average with a .265 mark.

One of their success stories this season has been the triumphant return of Nelson Cruz. If you may recall, Cruz was involved in the Biogenesis scandal that led to his 50-game suspension alongside former MVPs Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.

Teams shied away from him last offseason but the Orioles took a chance and have been rewarded so far with an All-Star season in the first half. Cruz is averaging .287 for the Orioles in batting average this season, driving in a team-best 74 runs as he boosted the Orioles’ offense which is currently ninth in the league in terms of run production with 405.

His fellow outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have also contributed to the Orioles’ attack with Jones hitting a superb .301 clip while Markakis has solidified the right field position batting an impressive .288 in 94 games.

The Orioles will send Chris Tillman (7-5, 4.11 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. Tillman lost his last outing against the Yankees though he pitched well, allowing just three hits in seven innings of work in a 3-0 shutout.

Baltimore will take comfort though in their recent away form winning seven of their last ten games on the road.

Betting on the Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics

To say that the Oakland Athletics has been impressive in the first half of the season would be an understatement. The Athletics dominated on both offense and defense as they stamped their class over the rest of the American League on their way to a 59-36 record, the best in the majors.

One of the key reasons why the Athletics have been so dominant this year is the quality of the performance shown by their pitching staff. They are second in the entire league when it comes to team ERA with a 3.09 average as Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez provided the backbone for the Athletics starting rotation.

Their already formidable rotation was bolstered even more when they acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs in a trade right before the All-Star break.

Oakland will line up Samardzija (3-8, 2.78 ERA) in their opener against the Orioles to start their second half. Samardzija pitched eight strong innings in his last outing for the Athletics where he allowed just three runs but was unlucky to lose a tight 3-2 ballgame to the Mariners.

That was a rarity for the Athletics who have racked up runs on a regular basis in the first half to complement their outstanding pitching so far. The Athletics have scored 466 runs this season which is second in the entire majors. This lethal combination of pitching and clutch hitting has helped the Athletics post a mind-boggling run differential of +145 which is the best in the entire MLB by a mile.

Another thing going for Oakland heading into this game is their impressive home record. They are 30-15 at home during the first half of the season, with the Athletics winning their last six home games before the break.

The Athletics will be wary though of Baltimore’s good record at Coliseum with the Orioles winning four of the last five games they have played in Oakland.

Writer’s Prediction

The Athletics will dominate the Orioles in the series opener and improve on their league-best record. Create a betting account now and see if you can predict who wins this showdown between these two top teams in the MLB.

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Written by Joel

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