Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview and Pick – Beckett vs. Garza

Boston Red Sox (14-7) Josh Beckett -108, 9 O/U at Tampa Bay Rays
(8-14) Matt Garza, -102, 9 O/U, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg,
Florida, 7:08 PM EST, Thursday

by Badger of

Another rematch of last years American League Championship Series
begins a four-game series tonight from Tropicana Field when the
Boston Red Sox send ace Josh Beckett out to face Tampa Bay Rays
righty Matt Garza, but oh what a difference a year makes this time

Last year at this time the Rays were off to the best start in
franchise history, but this year the Rays really need Garza to pitch
like a stopper because the Rays have lost four of their last five and
seven of their last 10 games. With just an 8-14 start and an already
6.5-game deficit in the AL East, the Rays cant afford to fall any
further behind the Red Sox in the standings.

The Red Sox meanwhile just keep on keeping on. After having their 11-
game winning streak snapped in a 9-8 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday,
the Sox won the series yesterday and started a new streak on get-away
day with a 6-5 decision in extra innings. Just to show you how good
its going for the Red Sox right now, little-used outfielder Jonathan
Van Every was the hero yesterday with a solo homerun in the 10th to
give Boston the lead. Who you ask? Yeah, Van Every, the Red Sox are
hotter than hot right now.

Baseball oddsmakers have been waiting for the Rays to get hot and
play like the team they were last season, and it appears they think
it will happen this weekend against Boston. How else can you explain
that the Red Sox and Beckett are just slim -108 favorites on the
moneyline? Tampa and Garza are -102 on the dimeline, and can even be
found at even money at a few Sportsbooks.

The over/under total is listed at 9 everywhere, so shop around for your best odds or reduced juice.

Maybe oddsmakers are weighing on the fact that the red-hot Red Sox
didnt play well at Tropicana earlier this month, when they lost two
of three games to the Rays in opening series of the season. But one
could argue that was the last time the Rays and Garza have played up
to their potential.

Garza won game three of that opening three-game set, pitching seven
innings allowing just one run on four hits and three walks. But since
that game Garza is 0-2 (the team is 0-3) with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.42
WHIP. His last two outings were his worst, allowing 11 earned runs in
11.1 innings.

Oddsmakers must also be considering Garzas history versus the Sox, as he is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA and a .227 OBA is seven career starts.

Bostons offense is so hot right now, it doesnt really matter whos
pitching for them, but they hand the ball to Beckett tonight. Beckett
was involved in that 16-11 slugfest with the Yankees last Saturday,
so his numbers are skewed (1-1, 7.94 ERA in last 3 starts), but the
Red Sox have won three of his four starts this season.

Beckett was super on opening day of the previous series this year,
pitching seven innings while giving up just two hits and one run with
10 strikeouts. For his career, Becket is 6-3 (11 starts) with a 2.93
ERA and a .223 OBA.

Oddsmakers must also be banking on the Red Sox poor history at
Tropicana Field, as they have won just three games in the last 14
games played in the series at the Tropicana and only six games of
their last 19 there.

There are a few interesting betting trends to watch for tonight as
well, as the Rays are 5-0 in Garzas last five starts versus Boston
and 4-0 in the four games he pitched against them at home. The under
could also be a strong play, as it is 5-1 in Becketts last six
starts versus Tampa Bay and 4-1 in the last five games overall in the

Badgers Pick: The baseball Gods seem to be pulling for Boston right
now, as they are getting big games from all 25 players right now. At
the bargain-low price of -108, if youre going to give me Beckett and
the red-hot Sox lineup right now (with or without Youkilis), Im
taking you up on it. Take Boston at -108.