Rays, Red Sox Tanglein Grapefruit Action
Bostonis slated to send John Lackey to the mound as the veteran righthander continueshis comeback from elbow surgery that cost him all of 2012 and a good portion of2011. Lackey will be opposed by MattMoore for the Rays, and the MLB odds show Moore and the home team -130 chalk.
Lackey has made three spring appearances so far, all in thestarting role, and is coming off his best outing yet this past Tuesday when heheld the Puerto Rico lineup scoreless forthree innings while allowing just three hits. That was a far cry from his first two trips to the mound when four runscrossed the plate in three combined frames.
This start should find Lackey expected to work at leastthree frames before giving way to a decent string of relievers that includes DanielBard, Junichi Tazawi and Koji Uehara. Boston’s lineup is alsoexpected to include Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.
Moore is making just his second official start of thespring, and looks to improve on his mostrecent effort on Tuesday when he was touched for a couple of runs in 2.2innings of a Rays win over the Twins. A few relievers who have also been stingy this spring are set to trailthe Tampasouthpaw to the hill (Josh Lueke, Juan Sandoval and Enny Romero).
It could get rather windy this afternoon in Port Charlotte, but will otherwise be a nice day forbaseball with mostly sunny skies and the thermometer almost reaching 80. My play in this one will be on the Beantownersas the small road pups.
League Favorites Meetas Cats Host Nats
We may still be working our way through spring training, butis it ever too early to point out a potential World Series matchup?
A couple of favorites to win their league pennants squareoff in a one o’clock start as the Washington Nationals travel to Lakeland to meet theDetroit Tigers. Opening MLB odds listed atSBR showed the Tigers -125 home favorites and +105 for the return on theNationals.
Dan Haren draws the start for Davey Johnson and the Nats,his third go this spring with decent results so far. Granted, one of those came against the lowlyAstros, but all reports out of Washington’scamp have been good for the veteran who signed as a free agent thiswinter. One of the relievers in thecontest should be Drew Storen who has been a bit fortunate with a 2.25 springERA despite batters hitting a robust .353 against him in four innings.
Detroitsends Rick Porcello out for his fourth start of the exhibition season. Porcello entered camp in a battle with DrewSmyly for the Tigers’ No. 5 slot in the rotation, and reports are BrayanVillarreal and Joaquin Benoit will follow in today’s mound lineup.
Weather shouldn’t be an issue with a few clouds in the skiesand temps reaching 77 or so at Joker Marchant Stadium. My baseball pick will once again be on the underdog.
Halos in Surprise toBattle the Royals
The weatherman is also promising a nice afternoon in Surprise,AZ where the Los Angeles Angels travel to take on the Kansas City Royals. It will be a bit cooler with the upper-60sforecast for the high, but with plenty of sunshine and with a slight breezeblowing out to right.
Tommy Hanson gets the call for the Halos while KC begins thecontest with Luke Hochevar. The Royalsare priced at -120 with the Angels even up on the MLB betting board.
Albert Pujols is not going to make the trip for the Halos,but Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Vernon Wells are all expected to get at leasta couple of at bats. Angels hurlers haveallowed 100 runs in 12 official spring games, so Hanson could need the extraoffensive support.
This game will feature both Royals pitchers who are fightingfor the final spot in the rotation as Hochevar is scheduled to be followed bylefty Bruce Chen. Kansas City has been the most impressive teamin the Cactus League, so we’ll simply ride the hotter club as small chalk.
My MLB Free Picks: Red Sox+110, Tigers +105, Royals -120 at bet365