The 2013 MLB betting campaign will still be shy of the quarter point once this weekend concludes. But for the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox, their season series will be half finished following three games at Fenway Park.
Sunday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
It would be a bit overdramatic to call Sunday's clash at Fenway Park a must-win for either the Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox. Still, the series finale is crucial to both clubs as the rubber match in this 3-game set.
The first pitch will be delivered by Ryan Dempster at 1:35 PM (ET), and his Red Sox are prohibitive -200 favorites to grab the victory. Chad Jenkins gets the call for the Blue Jays and the MLB odds. are listing a 9 run total that is taxed a bit more to the high side.
Mark Buehrle seemed to finally come out of his early-season funk on Saturday as Toronto pulled off a 3-2 triumph to even the series. The veteran blanked Boston into the eighth, and the Blue Jays used an Adam Lind home run in the ninth to stop a 3-game slide.
The loss dropped Boston a game behind the Yankees in the AL East ranks and marked the seventh setback in the last eight games for the struggling Red Sox. Every game is critical for the underachieving Blue Jays who still bring up the rear of the division.
Back pain is keeping Toronto's Brandon Morrow out of this series, hence the call-up of Jenkins to fill in this afternoon. Jenkins, the 20th overall pick of the 2009 draft, saw some action for the Jays in 2012 when he made 10 relief appearances and three starts while posting a 4.50 ERA in 32 frames. One of those relief outings came against the Red Sox (1.1 IP, 2 ER) for his only history vs. Boston.
Dempster is third among AL pitchers with 11.51 strikeouts per nine innings, but his lowest K tally of 2013 came on May 2 at the Blue Jays when he whiffed just four batters in six innings. The end result was a good one, however, as Boston posted the 3-1 win, Dempster's only career victory vs. Toronto.
Hunter Wendelstedt should be behind the plate this afternoon, with five of his seven previous assignments going OVER the total. A cloudy, humid afternoon is in store for fans at Fenway where the thermometer is not expected to get out of the 60s. The 12-15 mph WSW wind will give balls headed to right-center a little extra push.
Despite my lack of success on run lines this year, I'm coming right back with a play on the Red Sox today with the -1.5 line. ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball crew is in Chicago for the series finale between the White Sox and Angels, and SBR has a preview and pick for that game as well.
My pick: Red Sox -1.5 (-105) BET 365
Saturday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Toronto Blue Jays hitters had no answer for Boston's Jon Lester as the Red Sox cruised to the win in Game 1 of this series on Friday. The Beantown 9 now look to extend Toronto's skid to four games when the clubs return to Fenway Park for a Saturday matinee.
Boston is once again a prohibitive favorite with unbeaten Clay Buchholz on the mound. The Saturday morning baseball betting figures peg the Red Sox at -205 while Blue Jays backers are getting +185 with Mark Buehrle getting the starting nod.
A 9.5 run total that favors the UNDER is available at most outlets monitored by SBR's live MLB odds.
Lester spun a complete game 1-hitter in Friday's five-zip Boston victory, stopping a 3-game slide by the Red Sox. The southpaw took a no-hitter into the sixth before Maicer Izturis stroked the only Toronto hit, and the BoSox broke open a 1-0 game with a 4-run seventh.
Buehrle's struggles continued this past Monday at Tampa Bay where he allowed seven runs in six frames. The Blue Jays managed to rally from a big hole for an 8-7 triumph, but it was the fifth time in seven starts that Buehrle gave up five or more runs. One of those beatings came against the Red Sox in Toronto on May 1, and he has a 7.50 ERA in his last three assignments vs. Boston.
The Red Sox are a perfect 7-0 behind Buchholz who brings a 1.60 ERA into the contest and is working on a string of 55 innings without allowing a home run. He blanked the Jays for seven innings in that May 1 contest, allowing just two hits in the process, and is 9-4 lifetime vs. Toronto with a 2.42 ERA.
There is a good chance for rain in the Boston area this afternoon, and at the very least it will be damp and windy with the high climbing into the low-70s. Current forecasts are calling for 15-20 mph winds out of the south which could give balls headed towards the Green Monster an extra boost.
Greg Gibson is in line to call the balls and strikes, bringing a level 3-3 record on totals in his six previous plate assignments
I haven't had much luck betting run lines this season, but I'm still going that direction today with the Red Sox for my play. Another series we're following this weekend is in Chicago between the White Sox and visiting LA Angels, with previews and picks just a click away.
My pick: Red Sox -1.5 (-110) BET 365
By: Willie Bee
Game 1 of the set begins a little past 7 PM (ET) in Beantown, and a late pitching change delayed the overnight lines. Brandon Morrow, Toronto's originally scheduled starter, had some back issues when throwing between starts on Wednesday, and the Blue Jays have called up veteran Ramon Ortiz from the minors to take Morrow's place.
Boston is sending Jon Lester to the hill for the series opener, and Bookmaker opened this one with the Red Sox laying -210 plus a 9 run total on the MLB odds board.
Toronto and Boston are getting together for the third time on the schedule, and neither team heads into the series playing very well. That's nothing new for the Blue Jays who have been struggling since Day 1. They had a chance to get back on track earlier this week at Tampa Bay, but ended up splitting the 4-game series by dropping the final two games.
Boston's struggles are more recent, however, starting with a sweep in Texas last weekend at the hands of the Rangers. The Red Sox then came home and beat the Twins on Monday before losing the last three of that series, as they enter this weekend on a 3-game skid.
The Red Sox own a 292-235 record vs. the Jays all-time, but it's been a fairly level series since the start of the 2005 season with a 76-75 Boston advantage. Four of the six played this season have gone into the win column for the BoSox. All six of those games were played in Toronto, and six of the nine at Fenway last year went OVER.
Lester Hopes To Give Banged-Up Boston A Lift
The recent slide for the Red Sox coincides with bad news on the injury front, especially in the bullpen. Boston lost Andrew Bailey to the DL due to a sore right biceps muscle, and the reliever is expected to be out through next week. The club is also without Joel Hanrahan with a possibly season-ending injury to his right arm.
Hanrahan was moved to the 60-day DL on Thursday and will visit specialists to see if he needs surgery. Junichi Tazawa fills in as closer in the meantime.
With a shorter bullpen, manager John Farrell would love to see Lester go deep in Game 1 of this series. Lester's personal ledger includes a 4-0 mark, but the Red Sox have lost his last two outings, one of those to the Blue Jays in Toronto at the end of April. He blanked the Jays for seven innings at Rogers Centre in early-April, and the Red Sox are 14-10 in Lester's 24 career starts vs. Toronto, 7-2 in Boston, with a 3.82 overall ERA.
Ortiz Set For First Start In Nearly Two Years
It has been almost two years since Ortiz made a start at the major league level, and 2004 was the last time the slender Dominican faced the Red Sox. All four of his appearances vs. Boston in '04 came out of the Angels bullpen, and his last start against the Sox was in Aug. 2003 at Fenway where names like Nomar Garciaparra, Bill Mueller and Trot Nixon filled the lineup card.
Ortiz has one long relief outing this year for the Blues Jays, that coming in mid-April against the White Sox, and has been spending the rest of his time in the rotation at Triple-A Buffalo. David Ortiz has given Ramon Ortiz fits over the years, banging four homers among his five hits in 15 at bats.
Losing to Ortiz would be a huge embarrassment for the Red Sox, but Boston simply isn't playing well enough for me to get behind them, especially on such a huge moneyline. Lester hasn't been as good as he was coming out of the gate this year, and Toronto's offense has been heating up. I'll play the OVER for my free pick in Game 1.My MLB Pick: Blue Jays-Red Sox Over 9 (+105)