Tampa Bay Rays (35-22) +115, 9 at Boston Red Sox (35-25), 7 pm Eastern Tuesday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The defending World Series champions meet the most pleasant surprise of the early going in the American League this season when the Boston Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays for the opener of a three-game series Tuesday night in Beantown.
Baseball Bookies are listing Boston and starting pitcher Justin Masterson as -125 home favorites for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 9 , while Tampa and starter Matt Garza are getting +115 as road underdogs.
Tampa just took three of four games from the Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox over the weekend, and has won eight of its last 10. Meanwhile, Boston just took three of four games from Baltimore over the weekend. So going into Tuesday’s action, Tampa leads the AL East by a game and a half over the Red Sox.
But the Sox will be without one of their key cogs for a while after placing slugger David Ortiz on the DL Monday with a tendon problem in his wrist.
Tampa is 11-12 on the road this year, but 34-23 vs. the run line. On the other side of this match-up, Boston is 21-5 at Fenway Park this season, but 27-33 vs. the run line.
Boston swept three games from the Rays a month ago, outscoring Tampa 26-10, as all three games went over their totals. But TB had swept three games from the Sox a week earlier, and all three of those games stayed under their totals.
WHERE DO YOU BET ON BASEBALL? HAVE YOU CHECKED
OUT ALL THE OPTIONS AT 5DIMES?
Last year, the Sox took the season series from Tampa Bay 13 games to five. The totals went 8-10 in those games, which averaged 9.8 total runs.
Garza (4-1, 3.78, 1.36 WHIP), over his last three starts, including a great outing vs. Texas last Wednesday, has given up nine ER and 26 baserunners (hits + walks) in 19 2/3 IP. Tampa is 5-4 in Garza’s starts this season, the totals 3-6.
Garza started once for Minnesota vs. Boston last year, and once vs. the Sox already this year, allowing three ER and 15 BR in 10 IP. Garza’s teams won both those games, and both games stayed under their totals.
Masterson (1-0, 1.46, .97 WHIP) is being called up from Triple-A ball to make his third career start for the Sox this season. In his most recent outing, Masterson held Kansas City to one ER in 6 1/3 innings of a 2-1 Sox win two weeks ago. Boston is 1-1 in Masterson’s starts this year, the totals 1-1.
On the offensive side of things, Tampa ranks 10th in the majors this year in team batting at .262, 10th in team OBP at .334, 16th in team slugging at .401, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game.
Boston ranks 2nd in the majors in batting at .283, 3rd in OBP at .355, 5th in slugging at .445, and is averaging 5.0 RPG.
The Tampa Bay bullpen ranks 10th in the majors this year in ERA at 3.42 and 2nd in WHIP at 1.19. But closer Troy Percival is still on the DL with a bad hammy.
The Boston pen ranks 23rd in ERA at 4.16 and 19th in WHIP at 1.43.
The totals are 23-33 in Rays games this season, and their last five have all gone under, as Tampa has scored just 14 runs and allowed only 12 over that span. Meanwhile, the totals are 27-28 in Sox games this year, and 2-5-2 in their last nine games. And the totals are 13-13 at Fenway Park this year, where games are averaging 9.85 total runs.
Zman’s Pick: I’m on the Rays tonight at +115.