Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview and Pick (Clay Buchholz vs. Wade Davis) – Betting Line

Boston Red Sox (24-21) Clay Buchholz, at Tampa Bay Rays (32-12)
Wade Davis, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:10 PM EST,
Monday, May 24th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Red Sox +120/Rays -130
Total: 9

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If the Boston Red Sox are going to make a run and close the big gap
between them and first place in the American League East the time is
now, since they start a three-game series Monday night on ESPN going
head-to-head with the front-running Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Monday features a pair of young righties in the opener, as Boston hands the ball to Clay Buchholz while the Rays Wade Davis takes his turn in the rotation.

The Red Sox enter the series with some momentum after taking two of
three from the Philadelphia Phillies in interleague play over the
weekend, including an 8-3 victory yesterday beating Roy Halladay. The
Red Sox have now won five of their last six and are starting to get
their injured outfielders back from the disabled list just in time
for the showdown series.

Boston will also have a little bit of a revenge factor going into the series with the Rays too, since the Rays contributed greatly to their
early season struggles by sweeping a four-game series at Fenway back
in early April.

The problem facing the Red Sox tonight is the fact that no team in
baseball is hotter than the Rays right now.

Tampa Bay also took two out of three in interleague play over the
weekend, but they beat up on the lowly Houston Astros including a
10-6 triumph yesterday to make lefty David Price MLBs first seven-
game winner. But Fridays 2-1 loss to Houston was only their second
defeat in their last 10 games, and they havent lost a series since
Oakland took two of three from them on the West Coast back on May
9th, so they are proving to everyone they are not going away anytime

Oddsmakers opened the betting line overnight with the Rays and Davis
as -130 favorites on the moneyline and the early steam at the window
has actually driven it up to -135 at a few offshore sportsbooks.
Otherwise its still listed at -130, which means you can find the Red
Sox and Buchholz as high as +120 underdogs at the sportsbooks that
offer dimelines.

The over/under total opened at 9 and has held firm across the board, with the lone exception being 5Dimes where they list the total at 10
with heavy juice (-137) on the under bet.

These two starters are nearly identical in a lot of categories,
giving up plenty of base runners ( Buchholz .336 OBP, Davis .330) due
to high hit and walk totals (Buchholz 1.45 WHIP, Davis 1.38), but
they seem to wiggle off the hook enough because their ERAs are still
low enough (3.26, 3.35) to not completely fall apart and lose (both
teams are 5-3 in their 8 starts).

The main difference for me is over their whole body of work Davis is
allowing an average of 3.9 runs per game (4.7 in L3), while Buchholz
allows 5.2 and has actually gotten worse in his last three outings
(6.0) despite going 2-1.

Davis threw five great innings against the Red Sox in the series back
in April, allowing just two hits and a solo homerun to Jason Varitek
in what turned into a 3-1 Rays victory.

Buchholz also threw five innings in that opening season series one
day after Davis, but he eventually lost (6-5) due in part to his
inability to find the strike zone early in the game (3 H, 4 BB, 4 R)
and putting the Sox in a hole.

Last year the Rays won seven of the nine games they played against
the Red Sox at the Tropicana Dome, where the Red Sox are just 6-17
over the past few seasons. The over holds a slight 5-3-1 edge in the
head-to-head series in Tampa Bay as well, although the under is a
perfect 8-0 in Tampas last eight games at home.

Badgers Pick: If it was anybody other than Davis on the bump Id
probably be all over the Rays here, but Im just not sold on the
youngster yet. Im taking the over instead because I think both
offenses should be able to get some runners on and over tonight. Take
the over of 9.