Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Garza) vs. Seattle Mariners (Cliff Lee) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

Tampa Bay Rays (19-7) Matt Garza, at Seattle Mariners (11-15)
Cliff Lee, Safeco Field, Seattle, Wash., 10:10 PM EST, Wednesday, May
5th, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Rays -105/Mariners -105
Total: 6.5

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The Tampa Bay Rays continued their torrid start to the 2010 season
with their Major League Baseball-best 19th victory last night over
the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, so on Wednesday night theyll
have their ace Matt Garza on the bump when the try to tie the
Mariners in the record book for the best start ever in the American

But toeing the rubber and standing in the Rays way of that record-
tying 20th win (Seattle went 20-6 to start 2001) is the Mariners
prize offseason acquisition, left-hander Cliff Lee.

The Rays took game one of the three-game series last night in a
nearly identical fashion as they won their previous 18 games with
tremendous starting pitching backed by the heart of the Rays order.
James Shields went eight strong (8 H, 2 R) and the No. 2 through 4
hitters for the Rays (Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria)
went a combined 6-for-13 with three runs and two RBIs. Rafael Soriano
notched his seventh save with a near perfect 9th inning.

The Mariners offense also rapped out eight hits, lead by a 6-for-12
night by the first three hitters in the lineup (Ichiro Suzuki, Chone
Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez), but Shields was able to strike out
Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey Jr. to end the Ms bases-loaded threat
in the sixth (down 3-1), with the loyal Mariners fans booing loudly
when their icon Griffey waved at the final pitch in the dirt.

The Mariners defense also committed four errors in last nights
contest to basically guarantee their fourth straight loss at home in
the not-so Safeco Field and eighth loss in their last 10 games
overall. The win was the Rays 10th on the road this season (10-1),
tying that same 2001 Mariners squad that also started out 10-1 on the
road that year.

Oddsmakers are expecting a barnburner of a pitchers duel tonight, releasing the overnight betting line with Tampa Bay and Garza as slim
-115 favorites on the moneyline. The offshore sportsbooks that offer
dimelines and reduced juice are listing the game as a dead-even -105
to each side, but you might be able to find the Mariners at even
money at a few books.

Either side you choose, runs will be golden because the over/under total is an ultra-low 6.5 in the Lee-vs.-Garza brew-ha-ha in Safeco

Someone is going to have to flinch tonight on the mound because both
starters are at the top of their craft these days.

Garza has become the reliable ace of the Rays staff, going 4-1 with a
2.06 ERA and rock-solid splits (1.14 WHIP, .300 OBP) and an average
of seven innings per start. His only blemish would be that the
Mariners have tattooed him in the past, with 34 hits and 18 runs
(2.264 WHIP, 1.150 OPS) in 17.2 innings of work (4 starts), but that
was all done against him before 2009 since he didnt face them in any
of the eight head-to-head games with the Mariners in 09.

Garzas numbers at Safeco are only slightly better (1-0 in 2 starts,
1.737 WHIP, .959 OPS), and there are a plethora of Mariners hitters
(Bradley, Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, Casey Kotchman)
that hit over .300 against him, and four of them (Ichiro, Figgins,
Lopez and Gutierrez) with at least a 1.00 OPS or higher versus the

Lee was spectacular in his first start of the disabled list last
Friday, throwing seven innings of three-hit baseball with eight
strikeouts. The Mariners eventually lost the game 2-0 to Texas in
extra innings, but Lee was his typical Cy Young self.

The lefty is also solid against the Rays in the past, going 6-2 in 10
starts with numbers typical of what youd expect from the southpaw
from Arkansas (2.32 ERA, 0.991 WHIP, .258 OBP, .593 OPS). For the
record, Lee seems to like the large dimensions of Safeco because hes
5-1 in eight starts there with great splits as well (.267 OBP, .637

The betting trends for this contest are sketchy, but the under seems
to be a solid play even at a low 6.5. The under is 21-5-1 in Garzas
last 27 road starts, its 13-3 in their last 16 when the Mariners are
a home dog, and its a perfect 4-0 in all four of home plate umpire
C.B. Bucknors calls behind the dish.

Badgers Pick: I know the numbers tell a different story, but Garza
is not the pitcher the Mariners have faced in the past. The Rays are
better offensively and Garza is a great value at -105 on the
dimeline, in a game that will likely end with a 1-0 or 2-1 score.

Who do you like in tonight’s game? Post your thoughts in our MLB handicapping forum!