A's Head to Windy City

The Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox were both coming off their first losing seasons in some time, but so far, each seems to have forgotten about last year's troubles heading into Monday's opener in Chicago of a two-game set.

The White Sox (7-4) and Athletics (8-5) won 90 and 93 games, respectively, in 2006, but each struggled last season. Chicago went 72-90 for its first losing season since 1999, while the Athletics went 76-86 for its first since 1998.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Chicago -156 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago –156 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

After two weeks, each is on top of its division.

Oakland is coming off its first road loss of the season Sunday after falling 7-1 to Cleveland in the three-game series finale. The loss snapped the five-game winning streak of the A's, who swept the Blue Jays in Toronto before beating the Indians in the first two games of this series.

Oakland had just three hits on Sunday after putting together 16 runs and 22 hits in the first two games of the series.

Second baseman Mark Ellis said the weather - a temperature of 38 degrees with a 28-degree wind chill at gametime along with an intermittent wind-whipped mix of snow and rain - made it difficult to play.

"It was miserable, wasn't fun, and as cold as it's ever been for me playing ball," said Ellis, who drove in Oakland's only run with an RBI single in the fourth. "The hardest part was when the wind kicked up. You didn't want to be on defense too long."

Although the White Sox dealt with similar weather in their home series with Detroit over the weekend, it didn't seem to effect them. Chicago posted shutouts in the final two games, including an 11-0 victory on Sunday.

Paul Konerko and Joe Crede each hit grand slams, while Javier Vazquez allowed five hits over seven innings, striking out nine a day after Gavin Floyd took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

"It was kind of wild," Konerko said. "You don't see many grand slams, and especially with the weather. The weather was kind of brutal out there."

The White Sox will send Mark Buehrle (1-0, 8.31 ERA) to the mound on Monday looking to continue the strong pitching.

After struggling in his first start, the left-hander pitched well on April 6 against the Tigers, allowing two runs - one earned - and seven hits in seven innings of a 13-2 victory.

Buehrle is just 3-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 appearances - 17 starts - in his career against the A's. He's been a little better at home, however, going 3-3 with a 2.76 ERA in seven starts and two relief appearances at U.S. Cellular Field.

Greg Smith (0-0, 3.00) counters for Oakland, making his second career start. The 24-year-old left-hander pitched six innings in his major league debut on Wednesday, allowing three runs - two earned - and two hits in a 6-3 win. All three runs came in the first inning.

Oakland was 5-4 against the White Sox last season. It lost two of the three meetings in Chicago.

Monday's game is the first for White Sox center fielder Nick Swisher against his former team. Swisher spent four years in Oakland, batting .251 with 80 homers and 255 RBIs before he was traded in January for three prospects.

Swisher is batting .257 with two homers and four RBIs in 11 games with the White Sox.

Here are some top trends for tonight's matchup:

-OAKLAND is 5-0 (+7.9 Units) against the money line in road games in night games this season.

-CHI WHITE SOX are 49-64 (-24.2 Units) against the money line against left-handed starters over the last 3 seasons.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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