Under Is Way To Go In Red Sox-Rays Clash As Talented Pitchers Duel

Drew Pomeranz

Thursday, August 25, 2016 12:04 PM GMT

Afternoon baseball is part of Thursday's lineup, and one of the matinees finds the Boston Red Sox ending a long road trip as slight MLB odds favorites at the Tampa Bay Rays.

It has been nearly two weeks since the Boston Red Sox got to sleep in their own beds, and they'd like to end the long trip on a winning note as they finish up a 4-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

One of two matinees on Thursday's baseball betting card (1:10 PM ET), Boston sends young lefty Drew Pomeranz to the mound opposite Tampa's Jake Odorizzi. The Red Sox are carrying a -125 moneyline at BetOnline, 7½ the total and priced evenly high/low.

Boston took the first two games of the series behind solid pitching from David Price and Clay Buchholz. Yes, you read that right, I said solid pitching and Clay Buchholz in the same sentence. It appeared the Red Sox were headed for another such outcome Wednesday with Rick Porcello on the hill, but the Rays rallied to force extra innings and a 4-3 win as +120 underdogs on the MLB odds.

Tampa Bay's triumph stopped what was a 5-game win Boston win streak and left the clubs 3-3 at The Trop this year, totals also splitting down the middle on this diamond in 2016.

Both Hurlers Have Won 2 Straight Starts
The Red Sox are wrapping up an 11-game roadie with this game, their previous stops in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Detroit. They're in a dead heat with Toronto at the top of the AL East, the Orioles a game south of that pair, New York six back and Tampa Bay well out of it 17½ behind in the cellar.

Pomeranz got the trip started on a winning note in a makeup match vs. the Indians, working into the eighth and allowing two runs in a 3-2 Boston victory. It was the same 3-2 final five days later in Detroit, the southpaw going five with the only run charged to him a James McCann solo homer. That leaves the Red Sox 4-3 in his starts since he came east from San Diego in a July trade, his ERA slowly shrinking after a couple of rough outings early on. Three of the dubyas have come on the road as he prepares to work off this bump for the second time in his career. While with Oakland in 2014, Pomeranz tossed five shutout frames here in a 3-0 win over the Rays, that game also coming against Odorizzi.

Speaking of the 26-year-old, Odorizzi is coming off a pair of winning assignments as well, both quality starts at New York and home against Texas. He allowed three homers in the 12 innings but managed to limit the damage with two of them of the solo variety. Odorizzi also received plenty of support in the two games, Tampa's lineup totaling 20 runs against the Yankees and Rangers. He has been a better pitcher at home than on the road but hasn't fared well vs. the Red Sox this season with a combined nine innings and nine earned runs allowed in two starts. Odorizzi has done a better-than-average job against David Ortiz, however, limiting Big Papi to a .182 average (4-22) and whiffing him six times.

Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Big Chris Conroy completes one full turn through the umpiring crew for the series and the Massachusetts native has been on a bit of an 'under' run after starting the season favoring the 'over.' He's 11-10-2 O/U/P in 2016, but 1-5-1 his last seven plate assignments. He has worked one game in Tampa that never reached the baseball odds, and two starts by David Price that split the totals. Road favorites are 4-2 when Conroy is south of the dish, 7½ run totals running 1-3 O/U on the year.

We don't have to worry about the weather with the game under the roof in St. Pete and the Red Sox aren't worried about a raucous Rays crowd with the first three games drawing about 37,000 total, roughly what Boston averages per game at Fenway. The two pitchers have recently been trending opposite directions on totals, any my free baseball pick is going to side with Pomeranz's season-long 'under' inclination.

Free MLB Pick: Red Sox-Rays Under 7½ (-110)
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek
Season: 41-35 (+8.50)

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