We went 3-0 last week when the Red Sox traveled to Tampa, so let’s take another crack at this AL East rivalry series when the two clubs meet again for a three-game set this weekend. This time it will be at Fenway Park.
Even in light of a very disappointing start, Boston managed to sweep the Rays, who held baseball’s best record prior to hosting their fellow division resident. The outcome has to make you wonder if the Red Sox are back — and if the Rays are for real.
With the defending champs being within the hitter-friendly confines of their home ballpark, total bettors are initially leaning over. There’s been an average of 10.3 runs scored per contest thus far in games played at Fenway, which is to be expected whenever the Red Sox suit up in front of the hometown faithful.
Last year, Boston’s offense paced all of baseball with 468 runs put on the board in home games. Additionally, they were first in the American League in team batting average (.282) and OPS (.829) at home.
The Rays could be a contrast to all of that, topping the majors in ERA (2.66) entering Tuesday’s action. Their starters continue to provide superb work, as the rotation’s 2.06 ERA ranks first as well.
However, after seeing the under go 10-1 in their first 11 games, such bets have gone 3-9 since in Tampa Bay’s action since. Let’s see if that trend can continue.
Charlie Morton vs. David Price (Friday): Price was terrific last Sunday in his latest return to The Trop, the place he called home for six-plus seasons. He’s now made 14 starts (and one relief appearance) against his ex-organization, notching a 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in those outings. The former AL Cy Young is typically steady in these “revenge” matchups.
On the other hand, Morton has not been so reliable when taking on the intimidating Red Sox bats. Since arriving in the AL two years ago, the 12-year vet has yielded 15 runs in his four starts opposite the Sox, spanning 21.2 innings. That’s good for a 6.33 ERA. Even so, Morton has provided nice, consistent work in his first year with the Rays and I’d look for him to rebound. UNDER
Tyler Glasnow vs. Hector Velasquez (Saturday): In his first full campaign with the Rays, Glasnow has been tremendous, allowing two runs or fewer in all five of his starts. As a result, the under has gone 4-1 in Glasnow’s assignments. One of those came against Boston, whom the former Pittsburgh Pirate held to just two runs in five-plus innings last Sunday. It’s looking awfully challenging to get to the 25-year-old left-hander.
The Red Sox will counter with their version of the “bullpen game,” which is notably ironic considering the Rays are the team that fashioned this strategy. Velasquez is their version of the “opener,” except unlike with Ryne Stanek in Tampa, this third-year southpaw can go three innings — or beyond. He’s been pretty good in the role and I’d look for him to keep it going, but I’m not sure the rest of the bullpen can hold up on their end. OVER
Blake Snell vs. Chris Sale (Sunday): The plan as of now is for Snell to return off the injured list on Sunday and start the series finale. The Rays would certainly love to have him back on the mound as soon as possible, with Snell surrendering just one run combined in his last three starts. He also punched out 33 batters in only 19 innings within that span.
During his AL Cy Young award-winning showcase last year, Snell put up some impressive numbers against Boston despite their really strong season offensively. In fact, in four meetings, he held the Red Sox to three runs total. Expect Snell to pick up where he left off.
Meanwhile, Boston will counter with their ace and despite Sale’s shocking slow start, he’s still someone you can trust. The diminished velocity he was exhibiting at the onset of the year is no longer a thing, as Sale was bringing the usual heat during his most recent turns in the rotation. For his career, he’s 9-5 in 18 games (16 starts) opposite the Rays to go alongside a superb 2.96 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 161-32 K/BB ratio across 109.1 innings. UNDER
Last week: 3-0
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