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Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals - 9/30/14 2014 MLB AL Wild Card, Pick, Odds, Prediction

Oakland Athletics (88-74) at Kansas City Royals (89-73)

MLB Baseball: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm (Kauffman Stadium)

Jon Lester (L) (16-11) (2.458) vs. James Shields (R) (14-8) (3.211)

The Line: Kansas City Royals -123 / Oakland Athletics +113 --- Over/Under: 6.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: TBS

The Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals will play an American League wild card game Tuesday night that sends the winner to Los Angeles to play the Angels.

The Oakland Athletics have to feel fortunate to even be in the postseason, as their clincher came on the last day of the season due to a horrible second half. The A’s have lost eight of their last 13 games and have been held to three or less runs in 11 of their last 18 games. While things having been going well for the Athletics the last couple of months, they’re still one of the more accomplished regular season teams in baseball that has produced the fourth most runs and has the third best ERA. Sometimes poor recent play carries over to the postseason and results in an early exit, while other times it turn a team around and give them new life. Remember, by the All-Star break, most people had the Oakland Athletics as the world series favorite. Taking the hill for the A’s will be Jon Lester, who is 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA and has 220 strikeouts in 219.2 innings. In the postseason, Lester is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA and has 68 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.

Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals - 9/30/14 2014 MLB AL Wild Card, Pick, Odds, Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have won 15 of their last 26 games and will participate in their first postseason game since 1985. The Royals heated up in the second half of the season and have been playing a loose style of baseball given the fact nobody truly expected them to be here in the first place. The Royals don’t have many household names on their roster, but they do have the fourth best batting average in baseball and an experienced pitching staff that has allowed three or less runs in six of their last nine games. The Royals are a small ball team that relies on the basic fundamentals to win ball games. Taking the mound for Kansas City will be James Shields, who is 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA and has 180 strikeouts in 227 innings. In the postseason, Shields is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA and has 25 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.

The Athletics are 7-16 in their last 23 road games and 4-0 in Lester's last 4 starts vs. American League Central. The Royals are 10-4 in their last 14 games following an off day and 39-18 in Shields' last 57 starts overall. The Athletics are 1-4 in the last 5 meetings against the Royals.

While Shields has not been great in the postseason, it's tough to bet against the home team here and the team that's been hotter. Again, the Athletics are lucky to even be here to begin with due to poor play the last couple of months. This will be a tight game throughout, but the Royals seem hungrier for this moment and will take advantage late in the game. 

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Kansas City Royals -123

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