Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Pick 8/1/21
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, August 1
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Moneyline: BOS +130/TB -140 (Bovada)
Runline: Red Sox +1.5/Rays -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Nick Pivetta (8-4, 4.51 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) vs. Shane McClanahan (4-4, 3.93 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Feeling the Pressure
At the start of the second half, I felt that Tampa Bay, not Boston, was the best bet to emerge as the AL East champion, in large part because the Red Sox had made their living off of subpar teams and still had to play the Rays 13 more times. So far, Tampa Bay is taking full advantage of its chances down the stretch. The Rays have already won the first two games in this series convincingly, and they’ve fully eaten away Boston’s lead with ten more meetings still left to play after Sunday’s contest.
The big question for Boston is whether the Red Sox can raise their game to the Rays’ level over the final two months of the season. Boston was never supposed to be in this position in the first place, as the Red Sox were only expected to be a .500 ballclub this season. But now that they’re here, the Red Sox find themselves in a pressure situation to try not to waste this unexpected fast start. With 56 games left in the campaign, Boston probably only needs to be a .500 team the rest of the way to reach the postseason, but 91 wins probably aren’t going to be enough to beat out the Rays.
Consistency Can Backfire
Both pitchers have been relatively consistent in recent weeks, but that’s not been a selling point for either Pivetta or McClanahan. Pivetta has been whacked pretty well in each of his past three games, giving up four runs in each of them and allowing five home runs in his past five starts. Pivetta has had trouble with the long ball all summer long, as he’s given up 11 home runs over his past ten starts. At the same time, he’s seen his strikeout numbers fall in his most recent starts, fanning no more than four hitters in recent outings against Toronto and Philadelphia.
Things are a little better for McClanahan, although under bettors have benefitted from his starts thanks to Tampa Bay’s fine work in its bullpen. The under has cashed in five of McClanahan’s six starts, but he hasn’t been the main man responsible, as he’s given up three earned runs in three of his past four trips to the hill. His most recent start was definitely problematic, as he allowed nine hits and three walks to the Yankees in a 4-3 loss. The fact that it was only 4-3 says how well he’s wriggled out of trouble, but that kind of fortune won’t always be there.
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Pounding the Number
There are two things bettors have been able to count on this season when the Red Sox come to St. Petersburg: a lot of runs and a Rays victory. Boston is 0-4 in its past four games at Tropicana Field, and the over has cashed in six of seven matchups between the teams in Florida.
Why is that the case? Three reasons: First, the Rays’ offense has really stepped up since the break and currently ranks fourth in runs per game at 5.03. Second, the Red Sox aren’t comfortable against the Rays, one of the most talented teams in the American League. Third, the Red Sox are even less comfortable at the Trop, the last domed stadium in the game and up until the pandemic, one of only two artificial surfaces left in baseball. With Toronto’s Rogers Centre on the wrong side of the border, the Trop has been the only place the Red Sox have played on the faster surface in the past two years, other than three games in Texas. Boston really doesn’t like playing here, and it’s shown as the Rays are 4-1 at the Trop against them in 2021.
- The Red Sox are 1-4 in their past five overall.
- The Red Sox are 3-7 in their past ten games as a road underdog.
- The Rays are 16-6 in their past 22 games overall.
- The Rays are 38-16 in their past 54 games as a favorite.
- The over is 4-0-1 in the Red Sox’s past five road games.
- The over is 4-1-1 in the Red Sox’s past six games as an underdog.
- The over is 5-2 in the Rays’ past seven against the AL East.
- The over is 5-2 in the Rays’ past seven home games.
- The over is 21-5-2 in the past 28 meetings.
With the roof in place at the Trop, the weather isn’t a factor.
Boston hasn’t shown any signs of turning this thing around at the Trop, and the reality of what the Red Sox have done to this point might be setting in for a team that was never supposed to be here in the first place. With the Rays now in first place, I can’t see them letting it go in this matchup. Give me Tampa Bay. Bet your Red Sox/Rays pick FREE by grabbing a 200% bonus at Intertops Sportsbook! Simply deposit $25, enter bonus code ROOKIE200 and they’ll give you a free $50 credit to your account! Click here to register now!
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