Series to Watch: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics


Aug 19, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans hold up signs in the outfield during the game between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners at O.Co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

There have been so many headlines regarding off the field issues regarding stadiums and relocation that it can be easy to forget the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are both having great seasons on the field in 2013.

Entering this weekend’s series, both clubs hold the American League Wild Card positions, separated by just a half game. Of course, the Wild Card play-in game is such a crap shoot both teams would rather win their divisions outright, and are both within striking distance to do so.

Another thing the Rays and A’s have in common is they’re both moving in the wrong direction this month. Tampa Bay is 11-13 so far in August and Oakland is 12-13. Either team could use a boost as we turn the page to September this weekend.

There was a story in the Tampa Bay Times this week in which Rays officials suggested Major League Baseball is getting tired of the team being supported by revenue sharing. And of course, the A’s have been trying to move to San Jose for years now. Winning can only help both franchises’ quest for a brighter future.

While Rays-A’s is my pick for the best series of the weekend, there are three other great matchups between potential playoff teams.

It seems like there’s always a great head-to-head battle going on in the National League Central lately, and this weekend is no exception. The St. Louis Cardinals will try to extend their one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates as they visit PNC Park. The Pirates lead the season series 8-5.

In the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians travel to take on the division-leading Detroit Tigers. The Tribe got swept by the Atlanta Braves this week, and are in danger of fading out of the playoff hunt. Cleveland is six and a half games behind Detroit in the division and four games back in the Wild Card.

With four of five teams in the hunt for October, there’s always plenty of drama in the AL East. This weekend the New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams are in the thick of the Wild Card race and still have an outside shot at the division.


  • Rays at Athletics
  • Cardinals at Pirates
  • Indians at Tigers
  • Orioles at Yankees
  • White Sox at Red Sox
  • Twins at Rangers
  • Reds at Rockies
  • Giants at Diamondbacks
  • Royals at Blue Jays
  • Mets at Nationals
  • Padres at Dodgers
  • Marlins at Braves
  • Angels at Brewers
  • Phillies at Cubs
  • *Mariners at Astros

*Four-game series that started Thursday


Fri: Jose Fernandez (10-5, 2.30 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (10-7, 3.08)
No one could have expected either of these rookies to be performing at this level prior to the start of the season. Sure, Fernandez was ranked as one of the best prospects in the game, but he had never pitched above A-Ball. Teheran was once a Top-5 prospect, but his stock dropped dramatically after posting an ERA over 5.00 last season in the minors.

Sat: Alex Cobb (8-2, 2.87) vs. Sonny Gray (1-2, 3.18)
Neither of these guys is the highest-profile pitcher on their staff, but they’re both going to have a huge impact on how their teams finish out the season. When The Rays traded away James Shields, they needed someone to step up. Cobb has done just that. Gray, 23, is making just his fifth start, but Oakland doesn’t shy away from leaning on it’s young pitchers if they show they’re ready.

Sun: Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.67) vs. Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.73)
Verlander hasn’t been himself all season, but there’s still time for him to kick it into gear and help lift Detroit into the playoffs. If he returns to old form, the trio of Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez could be unbeatable in October. Salazar has been overpowering in his five starts with Cleveland, striking out 32 batters in 27 innings pitched. The right-hander was averaging 12.5 K/9 in the minors prior to his callup.