A’s, Jays Begin 4-Game Set in Oakland

After being swept by the Detroit Tigers, Brandon Moss and the A's will look to rebound against Toronto.

After being swept by the Tigers, Brandon Moss and the A’s will look to rebound against Toronto.

Division leaders meet Thursday as the Oakland Athletics host the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a four-game set in the Bay Area.

First pitch at O.co Coliseum is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. ET.

20140702_AL_WestOakland (51-36, 24-15 home) continues to own the best record in the majors, a trend that has seen the club move to the top of baseball futures list, but a recent run of losses has the side all of a sudden looking vulnerable.

The Athletics fell 9-3 to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday afternoon, finishing a three-game series against the AL Central leaders on the wrong end of a sweep.

While three losses is little for a team that has won more than 50 games in the first half to worry about, it does suggest that there is a chink in the armor, and that the A’s still need to prove themselves going forward.

Bob Melvin’s club will get the chance to prove itself against the AL East-leading Blue Jays this weekend, and they’ll get to do it in the friendly confines of O.co Coliseum, a park in which the side has won 18 of its last 24.

20140702_AL_EastToronto (47-39, 22-18 road) is another team looking to prove itself.

The Blue Jays have managed to cling on to top spot in the AL East for the better part of the season, but the Baltimore Orioles are pushing closer and closer to the top of the standings. Add to that the fact that any prolonged run of good form by any team within the division and the Jays’ lead continues to look precarious.

John Gibbons’ club put paid to a run of nine losses in 13 games this week, sweeping the National League-leading Milwaukee Brewers in a brief two-game set north of the border.

A tiebreaking three-run homer from Edwin Encarnacion, one of three Blue Jay homers in the game, saw the side win 7-4 on Tuesday.

With a successful series against the Brewers in the book, the Jays would love to get the better of the A’s this weekend, just like in May when the club completed a three-game sweep in Toronto.

A win in Thursday’s opener might be hard to come by though as the club goes with embattled starter R.A. Dickey (6-7, 4.24 ERA).

Since May 29, Dickey has gone 1-3 with a 4.79 ERA in six starts. During that period he’s made it out of the sixth inning just once, and has failed to get out of the fifth on three occasions. He’s allowed 19 earned runs over the period, including 11 home runs, a huge cause for concern for the Blue Jays.

That being said, Dickey recorded a win against the A’s on May 24, yielding two runs on five hits through 8 1/3 innings of a 5-2 Blue Jays victory, and has played well at O.co Coliseum.

Oakland will counter with Sonny Gray (7-3, 3.20 ERA).

The 24-year-old right-hander has had a somewhat patchy season. After starting the year 4-1, Gray recorded four no decisions in May before having mixed results in June. In his last outing, he allowed a season-high five runs on seven hits in just five innings against the Miami Marlins. He’ll be hoping to bounce back on Thursday.

Will R.A. Dickey break out of his slump on Thursday?

Will R.A. Dickey break out of his slump on Thursday?

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Oakland Athletics odds for 07/03/2014

Oakland (-164) opened as the favorite over Toronto (+154) on the moneyline, and remains a comfortable favorite as game time approaches.

The A’s haven’t fared particularly well against AL East opponents this season, posting a 12-10 record against the division. The Jays meanwhile are 8-5 when playing against the AL West.

Oakland is 31-20 in night games, while Toronto is 20-16.

The A’s also have a narrow advantage against right-handed pitching, going 35-25 compared to Toronto’s 35-28.

Toronto has won in four of its last five trips to Oakland.

The over/under opened at 7 but has subsequently jumped up to 7 1/2.

The total has gone under in four of Oakland’s last five games at home, as well as the last four head-to-head meetings between the two clubs.

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The series continues over the weekend with the following start times: Friday (4:05 p.m. ET); Saturday (10:05 p.m. ET); Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET).

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