Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics Picks and Predictions May 28th 2024

Rays Put ‘All-Encompassing’ Struggles Up Against A’s

The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays are set to clash for the first time this season, kicking off a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Florida. This matchup features two clubs on very different paths, with Oakland showing signs of improvement after a rough 2023 season and Tampa Bay struggling with unexpected setbacks. Let’s dive into the details of these two teams and what to expect in this series.

Oakland Athletics’ Recent Performance

The Athletics are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League West, a significant improvement from their previous season. During a recent six-game homestand, the A’s split their games, taking two out of three from the Colorado Rockies before dropping two against the Houston Astros.

In Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Astros, a critical error by shortstop Max Schuemann proved costly. Schuemann bobbled an easy two-out grounder in the fourth inning, committing two errors on the play, which led to five runs, four of which were unearned. These mistakes highlighted the thin margin for error for the Athletics.

Manager Mark Kotsay commented on the incident, emphasizing its impact: “The play is made and it’s a one-run game. It really impacted the game. Physical errors are going to happen. Nobody is trying to go out there and make an error. Max has played a good shortstop. You look back on Friday’s loss, we had one bad inning. Today, we had one inning that let the game slip away from us.”

Despite these setbacks, the Athletics are showing resilience and a determination to climb up the standings. Their performance this season indicates a team on the mend, eager to shake off the shadows of a dismal 2023.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Struggles

In contrast, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves near the bottom of the AL East, ahead of only the struggling Toronto Blue Jays. Injuries have significantly affected the Rays’ performance this season, making it difficult for them to find consistency.

Against Kansas City on Sunday, Brandon Lowe hit a three-run triple that helped the Rays secure a 4-1 victory, salvaging the final game of the series. However, the Rays have struggled at home this season, a stark contrast to their strong performances in previous years under manager Kevin Cash.

Entering the season, the Rays were known for their home-field advantage, boasting a 176-96 mark (.647 winning percentage) at home since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. This year, however, they have a 15-17 home record, including a 1-5 record on the current nine-game homestand.

“We’re not getting it done,” Cash admitted. “Every facet of it. I mean, we’re expanding on pitches that we probably can’t handle. The pitches we can handle, we’re not doing any damage with. We’re not able to piece too much together right now. So I mean, it’s kind of all-encompassing.”

The Rays are in dire need of a turnaround, and this series against the Athletics could be the perfect opportunity to get back on track.

Pitching Matchup

The series opener will see Rays right-hander Zack Littell (2-2, 3.42 ERA) take the mound for his 11th start. Littell’s last two starts were no-decisions against the Boston Red Sox, where he allowed six earned runs in 10 2/3 innings, including two homers. Over nine career appearances against the A’s, all in relief, Littell has a 4.00 ERA.

For Oakland, rookie right-hander Mitch Spence (3-2, 4.09) will start the first game of their six-game road trip. Spence has shown promise in his early outings, and the Athletics will be looking to him to set a positive tone for the series.

Key Themes and Outlook

Contrasting Trends

This series highlights two teams on different trajectories. The A’s are on the rise after a poor 2023 season, while the Rays are dealing with unexpected struggles, especially at home. This dynamic adds an intriguing layer to the matchup, as both teams are desperate to prove their mettle.

Impact of Errors and Injuries

Oakland’s improvement is occasionally marred by costly errors, while Tampa Bay’s season is hampered by injuries and missed opportunities. These factors will be crucial in determining the outcome of the series, as both teams strive to overcome their respective challenges.

Managerial Insights

Managers Mark Kotsay and Kevin Cash provide valuable perspectives on their teams’ performances, highlighting areas needing improvement. Their insights will be critical as they strategize to lead their teams to victory in this pivotal series.

Pitching Dynamics

The performance of starting pitchers Littell and Spence will be crucial in setting the tone for the series. Both pitchers have shown flashes of brilliance, and their ability to control the game will be a key factor in their teams’ success.


As the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays face off, both teams will aim to overcome their struggles and leverage their strengths. This series promises to be a compelling battle between two clubs looking to redefine their seasons. The outcome will hinge on their ability to adapt and seize opportunities, making for an exciting few days of baseball in St. Petersburg.

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Marco D'Angelo | Handicapper

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Marco D’Angelo has been a professional sports handicapper and bettor since 1980.

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