Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers Preview

Tampa Bay Rays (73-47) +100, 10 1/2 at Texas Rangers (61-61), 8 pm Eastern Friday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Tampa Bay Rays still own first place in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers just keep falling further behind in both the AL West and the AL wild-card race. Thus is the situation as the Rays and Rangers begin a three-game weekend series in Arlington Friday night.

Baseball bookmakers are listing Texas and starting pitcher Kevin Millwood (6-6, 5.40, WHIP) as 110 home favorites for Friday’s game, with a total of 10 1/2, while Tampa and Matt Garza (9-7, 3.88, ) are getting +100 as road underdogs.

Tampa just took two of three games in Oakland, and is 5-2 on a current 10-game road trip. Meanwhile, Texas just got swept three games in Boston by the Red Sox, by scores of 19-17, 8-4 and 10-0, and has lost seven of its last eight games.

So going into this weekend’s action, Tampa leads the AL East by three games over the second-place Boston Red Sox, while Texas is in second place in the AL West, but a distant 15 1/2 games back of the first-place Los Angeles Angels.

While 26 games over .500 this season, Tampa is only 28-30 on the road this year. The Rays are also 62-58 vs. the run line.

Texas is 31-26 at home this season, and 64-58 vs. the run line.

The Rays have taken four of six games from the Rangers so far this season, with the totals going 3-3, as the games have averaged 11.7 total runs per.

Over his last three starts, including a poor performance vs. Seattle last Saturday, Garza has allowed nine ER and 26 baserunners (hits + walks) in 19 2/3 IP. Tampa is 11-11 in Garza’s starts this season, the totals 8-14.

Garza made one vs. Texas last year as a member of the Minnesota Twins, and has started twice this season for the Rays against the Rangers. Over those three games, Garza allowed six ER and 19 BR in 18 1/3 IP. His teams won two of those three games, and all three of them stayed under the totals.

Millwood is just coming off a two-week stint on the DL with a groin injury. He made a rehab start at AA Frisco last Sunday, allowing two ER and five hits in four IP. He hasn’t started in the majors since throwing just an inning and two-thirds on July 23 vs. the White Sox.

Texas is 10-10 in Millwood’s starts this year, the totals 11-7.

Millwood has not started a game vs. the Rays since 2006.

Offensively, Tampa ranks 19th in the majors this season in team BA at .258, 10th in team OBP at .337, 16th in team slugging at .416, and is averaging 4.6 runs per game.

Texas ranks 2nd in batting at .282, 3rd in OBP at .352, 1st in slugging at .460, and leads the majors in scoring at 5.6 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Tampa bullpen has allowed five ER and 30 BR in 20 1/3 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the Texas pen has given up 11 ER and 39 BR in 23 2/3 IP.

On the injury/personnel front, Rays closer Troy Percival is doubtful for Friday’s game with a sore knee. And Tampa just put both 3B Evan Longoria and OF Carl Crawford on the DL with hand/wrist injuries. Meanwhile, Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is questionable while dealing with family-related issues.

The totals are 49-69 in Rays games this year, 66-50 in Rangers games, and 31-24 in games played at Rangers Ballpark, which are averaging a league-high 12.3 total runs this season.