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

Tampa Bay Rays (6-3) Wade Davis, at Boston Red Sox (4-5) Josh
Beckett, Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., 7:10 PM EST, Friday, April 16th,

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Rays +170/Red Sox – 180
Total: 9

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The Tampa Bay Rays continue their early season tour through the
American League East Friday when they head into Boston to start up a
four-game set with the Red Sox in historic Fenway Park.

The Rays have yet to play a team not in the AL East, as four of their
six victories so far have come against the Baltimore Orioles and two
of their three losses to the Yankees, the only two teams the Rays
have played thus far. Not only does Tampa Bay come into the Red Sox
series fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Orioles, including a
9-1 thumping in the finale on Wednesday, but because of an off day
Thursday they also arrived in Beantown a day earlier than the home
team Sox who played a getaway day game in Minnesota yesterday.

That getaway game didnt go so well for the Red Sox as Francisco
Liriano threw a four-hit shutout against them in the Twins 8-0
victory. The win gave the Twins the series and dropped the Sox a game
below .500 before the start of their 10-game homestand beginning with
the Rays tonight (Rangers and Orioles to follow).

The best news for the Red Sox faithful is that they throw their ace
Josh Beckett right away in the first game, as he trots out to toss
the first pitch while the Rays counter with rookie right-hander Wade

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas released the overnight line with Beckett and the Red Sox listed as strong -180 favorites on the moneyline, but I wouldnt be surprised if the steam moves that number up quickly.
Davis and the Rays are currently +170 underdogs on the dimeline.

The total opened at 9.5 and is still listed at that number at a few offshore sportsbooks, but a large majority of the books have dropped
the total to 9 with the over having increased -120 odds.

Handicapping the starters is a simple task for this game because everyone whos watched baseball the last few years knows what Beckett
can do, and Davis has a whopping total of seven career MLB starts so
a dive through his history is a brief task.

Since were on the topic of history, the Rays certainly hope it
doesnt repeat itself tonight in regards to Davis and the Red Sox.
One of the six starts Davis had during his September call up last
year came at Fenway against the Sox, and lets just say that it
wasnt pretty (2.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 4 BB). Ironically, that start came
against Beckett and ended with a 9-1 Sox victory.

The young rightys first start this year came against the Yankees and
wasnt that terrible (6 IP, 7 H, 4 R), even though the result of the
game was a very similar 10-0 victory by the Pinstripes.

Boston has won both of Becketts starts so far in 2010, but the
righty has been very un-Beckett like getting tagged around by the
Yankees (4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 BB) and Royals (7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, BB) with
a .396 OBP and a 6.17 ERA.

The good thing is Becketts career numbers versus the Rays are
virtually identical to his career numbers at Fenway. Against the Rays
in 15 career starts his 1.164 WHIP, .290 OBP and .701 OPS are just
slightly lower to his career numbers in Fenway (1.226, .303, .716,
but at least you know what youre getting and that more than likely
going to be a quality start.

The Red Sox will need Beckett to eat up some innings too, since the
Sox havent had a starter get through more than six innings since his
last start. On the flip side the Rays trio of David Price, Jeff
Niemann and Matt Garza all pitched seven innings or more in the
Orioles series sweep, so their bullpen will be well rested for the
four-game set.

These two teams split their overall season series last year down the middle with nine wins apiece, but the Red Sox did win six of nine at
Fenway. In fact, the Rays have never really played all that well at
Fenway going 16-53 in the last 69 head-to-head games in Boston.

The over/under results in those nine game trended toward the under,
with the final tally going 3-5-1 (o/u/p).

Other betting trends of note: the Red Sox are 6-1 in Becketts last
seven home starts vs. the Rays and 14-3 in his last 17 home starts
total; the Rays are 3-13 in their last 16 games as the underdog.

Badgers Pick: If youve got enough bankroll to cover the juice Id
play Beckett here, but normally I dont like eating that much chalk.
So Im going with the safer play on the over of 9 (go ahead and pay
-120). Im going with history here, and weve already seen the young
Davis wilt under to heat of Fenway. The Rays offense is hot enough to
scratch out a few off Beckett and get this game over 9.