By: Willie Bee
It's been a successful trip so far for the Boston Red Sox, so good, in fact, that they enter Sunday's finale in Minnesota against the Twins with the best road record in the American League.
Boston will try and keep a 4-game win streak going and complete a sweep of the Twins when the clubs wrap things up in a 2:10 PM (ET) start at Target Field. John Lackey is searching for just his second win in six starts, and the MLB odds suggest he'll get it with the Red Sox carrying a favorites tag of -125 or so.
Pedro Hernandez is also making his sixth start of the campaign for the Twins, and the scoreboard tally for baseball bettors to ponder is 9.5 or 10, depending where you play.
David Ortiz cracked two homers in Saturday's 12-5 victory, driving in half of Boston's dozen runs. It was the second straight 3-hit game for Big Papi, and it came at a good time since Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster was also having a rough day on the mound (4.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 BB).
Ortiz and the BoSox will be facing their second consecutive southpaw in Hernandez, 11 days after they saw the young Venezuelan at Fenway. Boston popped a pair of homers in that 15-8 win on May 8, chasing Hernandez after just two innings, and the Red Sox also knocked him around in his MLB debut last season when they scored eight runs with three long balls in his four innings of work.
Lackey's only win in five assignments came against the woeful Astros about three weeks ago, and he has struggled on the road in three starts this campaign (13.1 IP, 10 ER). His own defense cost him when Lackey saw Minnesota 10 days ago in Boston, with four of the five runs he was charged with going in the unearned column.
Calling the plate in the series finale will be Chad Fairchild and his balanced 4-4 mark on the totals. The Ohio native came into 2013 with a pronounced lean to the low side of totals the past two season (23-34-4 O/U/P).
There is an 80% chance this game will be affected by the wet stuff. Afternoon highs are expected to reach the mid-to-upper 70s with a hefty 15-20 mph SE wind (in from right-center).
It's easy to see a lot of offense in this one, given how Lackey and Hernandez have performed, but I'll make a play on the Red Sox to push their string to five straight wins. Meanwhile in New York, we have a preview and pick in the final game of the set between the Yankees and Blue Jays as Toronto hopes to avoid the Bronx brooms.
My pick: Red Sox -121 at Bet 365 Sportsbook
By: Willie Bee
Well, that didn't go like I expected, which is no big surprise considering my long list of losing run-lines this season. The Boston Red Sox did win their series opener at the Minnesota Twins, but it wasn't by the 2-run margin we needed.
Minnesota and Boston will once again play under the lights Saturday at Target Field with an interesting righty-lefty matchup on the hill. Ryan Dempster is up next for the Red Sox while Scott Diamond is in line for the Twins. Boston opened at -130 for the tilt, and that moneyline is still what we're seeing at most shops charted by SBR's live MLB odds.
The scoreboard hurdle for Game 2 is 8.5 runs, and UNDER bettors will have to cough up a little extra juice to get on that side.
Boston certainly had opportunities to push more runs across the plate Friday but never could get the hit that would have broken the game open. The Red Sox hit into three double plays along the way before finally ending in the 10th inning by a 3-2 score. It was Boston's third straight dubya to keep the Sox right on the Yankees' heels in the AL East race, while the defeat was Minnesota's third straight and dropped the Twins into the cellar of the AL Central.
Diamond and Dempster met at Fenway Park 11 days ago, and it was Diamond who brought his A game while Dempster had B, maybe B+, stuff. Boston's defense let Dempster down a bit in a game he allowed just six baserunners of his own doing over seven innings while striking out eight.
But it didn't really matter since Diamond tossed seven innings of 3-hit baseball, and nary a walk on his ledger. Since then Dempster was roughed up at home against the Blue Jays, with tonight just his third road start of the year, while Diamond was suffering a very similar outing off this mound vs. the Orioles. Both of those starts came last Sunday.
Paul Schrieber is scheduled to be under the mask and brings a 2-4-2 O/U/P record for the season into the matchup. This will be his first plate assignment in which the home team is not favored. Warm and muggy conditions are in the mix, along with a 30% chance of thunderstorms and a SSE wind in the 12-15 mph range (in from right-center.)
I'm going to get behind Dempster tonight with a play on the Red Sox. The Blue Jays and Yankees are also tangling this weekend, and there is a preview and a pick for each game in that series as well.
My pick: Red Sox -129 at Bet 365 Sportsbook
By: Willie Bee
Unless there's a playoff collision ahead for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, the squads will bid each other adios for 2013 with this weekend's 3-game series in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. That means it's the last chance for the Red Sox to exact a little revenge from a little more than a week ago when they dropped three of four at home to the Twins.
Boston will have the pitching edge in Game 1 on Friday as Clay Buchholz takes the mound against Minnesota's Vance Worley. The Red Sox started off laying $1.60 on the overnight MLB odds, and the moneyline remains at or near that number roughly 12 hours in advance of Worley's first pitch. Bettors more interested in the scoreboard are facing an 8.5 run total.
In a series that dates back to 1901, it's fairly level with the Red Sox holding a 955-925 advantage. Since relocating to Minnesota in 1961, the Twins have a tiny 296-291 edge after taking three of four in Beantown earlier this month, but they're just 3-6 at Target Field vs. Boston since it opened in 2010.
The Red Sox swept the 3-game series here last season, with all three games jumping the total.
Twins Hanging Close In AL Central Race
This series will end a 9-game homestand for the Twins who dropped two of three to both the Orioles and White Sox before taking Thursday off. A victory Friday night would bring them back to .500 on the season, as well as at home, and taking two of three from Boston this weekend is a must if Minnesota wants to stay close in the division race.
The Twins are seventh in the American League scoring 4.65 runs per game despite owning one of the lowest slugging percentages and ranking 14th in home runs with 29. Minnesota is11th, however, with a 4.34 staff ERA with opposing batters hitting a crisp .290 on the year.
Those numbers are even worse for the starting pitchers who have combined for a 5.30 ERA with the opposition batting .323 against the rotation. Worley, acquired in the offseason from Philadelphia, has just one truly solid outing while fashioning a big fat 7.15 ERA, and Boston batters should be licking their chops to get after him in Game 1. The righthander out of Long Beach State has served up five homers and 30 hits in his last three starts while lineups are smoking him for a .379 average so far.
He did beat the Red Sox in his only appearance vs. them in 2011, working seven frames and allowing just one run. But Worley was unable to build off that season and isn't anywhere near the pitcher he was two years ago.
Sox Start Road Trip With Series Win Over Rays
May hasn't been nearly as kind to the Red Sox as April, but Thursday's victory at Tampa Bay might just be a sign they are on the verge of pulling out of their tailspin. Boston rallied in the ninth for the victory, the first 2-game win streak since the first two days of the month, and the triumph helped the Sox take two of three from the Rays to begin this 9-game road trip.
Boston lost its first game with Buchholz on the hill last Saturday, though it certainly wasn't the fault of the righty out of Texas. Buchholz's performance (8 IP, 2 ER) in the 3-2 loss was his seventh quality start in eight assignments, and he started the only game the Red Sox won in the series with the Twins at Fenway less than two weeks ago.
Lingering thunderstorms are in the Twin Cities forecast for this evening's tilt. The thermometer is expected to be in the mid-60s for most of the game with a 10-15 mph ESE wind blowing in from right-center.
Can the Red Sox bash against Worley, at least enough to cover my run-line MLB pick in this one? I certainly hope so. Check back all weekend as we follow this set from start to finish.
My pick: Red Sox -1.5 (-105) at Bet 365 Sportsbook