Wednesday's game seemed destined for extra frames. The Boston Red Sox had several golden opportunities to break through against San Diego Padres pitchers, but couldn't get the job done in a 1-1 game headed to the bottom of the ninth.
With his starting lineup 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, Boston manager John Farrell turned to his bench and summoned Johnny Gomes, who immediately answered his skipper's S-O-S. Boston now takes aim at the sweep in Thursday's finale, and a chance to conclude a stellar homestand with its eighth win in nine contests. San Diego, meanwhile, looks to salvage at least one game in the set and avoid heading to Washington on a 6-game skid.
The initial clash of pitchers pits two hurlers who are both popping their cherries against the respective opposition. The Pads send Eric Stults out in the sun at Fenway Park opposite Boston's Allen Webster, and it was the Red Sox who opened as early $1.45 favorites, a price that is up at least five cents at most betting outlets.
Thursday's matinee also includes a 10.5 run total that has been boosted by a half-run since the MLB odds first went out.
Stults finally saw a pretty good run of pitching end in his last start, a 7-1 whipping last Saturday in Miami at the hands of the Marlins, no less. Before that, he'd reeled six straight quality outings, and 10 of 11 after beginning the year with a rough April. His first two interleague starts this season were split by the Padres, a brilliant performance at home vs. Seattle and a rather rough one in St. Pete against the Rays.
Webster is up with the Red Sox for the third time in 2013, filling in for Clay Buchholz on this stint. Part of the compensation Boston received from the Dodgers in the big trade last summer, Webster has given Boston no indication of being a long-term answer for the rotation this year. The young righty has enjoyed a fine season so far at Triple-A Pawtucket, and will probably be back there soon unless the switch goes on in this outing.
The low-90s, muggy and a SW wind in the mid-teens (out to center) is your forecast for Boston on the Fourth of July.
Dana DeMuth, chief umpire for Crew B, should have the plate for the finale, and brings no real trends into the contest. His previous 12 games are 5-7 O/U and 6-6 for the home teams. Keep an eye on the 1B ump as well, Angel Hernandez, one of the worst and ready to make himself the focal point of a game at the drop of a hat or helmet.
With the clubs combining for only eight runs the first two games, I'm not sure where the offense is expected to come from today. I'll play the UNDER at Fenway.
Wednesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
It took Boston Red Sox hitters one loop through the batting order to catch up to Robbie Erlin, the starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres in Tuesday's series opener. John Lackey, meanwhile, had little trouble going through the Padres lineup several times to help Boston to a 4-1 victory, and give the Red Sox a little extra breathing room in the AL East race.
Boston now turns to Jon Lester to secure a third consecutive series on the current homestand, and the MLB odds are firmly behind the Beantowners. The Red Sox were sent out on a -185 moneyline, a bit of a scary thought considering how Lester has been pitching, and remain in that general vicinity following overnight action.
San Diego will try and even the series up behind the enigmatic Edinson Volquez, and a 10-run total lends itself to the promise of a classic Fenway Park slugfest.
Boston's Tuesday triumph stretched the AL East lead to 3.5 games over the Orioles, who dropped Game 1 of their set in Chicago against the White Sox. San Diego managed to stay within 2.5 games of the top of the NL West...but just a half-game from the basement.
Will the real Edinson Volquez please stand up? The Dominican has been a tough nut to crack for bettors, at times looking like the dominant arm he was always supposed to be and lost on the mound in other games. Volquez's 2013 got off to a very bad start, and he's faced the Rockies three times already, twice at Coors Field, posting a 14.65 ERA against them while coming in with a respectable 4.18 ERA in his other 14 assignments.
Wednesday will be only his second clash with the Red Sox, the other in 2008 at Great American Ball Park where he was wearing a Cincinnati jersey. Volquez left that game trailing, but pitched well (7 IP, 2 ER, 9 K, 1 BB).
Lester got knocked around in June (7.62 ERA) though Boston won three of his five starts. The southpaw has just one quality effort among his last eight assignments after beginning the campaign 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA through May 15. Hump Day is his career cherry against the Padres who are 16-14 vs. lefthanders so far.
The 10-run total will be the highest for a game that Doug Eddings has called the balls and strikes this season. His 17 previous plate assignments resulted in a slight 9-8 OVER lean, and Eddings has one of the larger strike zones among umpires which could be a boon for Volquez and/or Lester.
Weather isn't supposed to be an issue at Fenway Park where partly cloudy skies, the low-80s and a 10-15 mph SW wind (right to left) are in the mix. The real issue for bettors is the difficulty in generating much confidence in either arm tonight. Call me crazy, but I'm going to come right back with a run line play on the Red Sox for my free MLB picks in Game 2.
My MLP Pick: Red Sox -1.5 (+100)
Tuesday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
One team started the week with a 2.5-game lead in its division while the other sat just 2.5 games out of first place in its division. So why aren't we building this interleague set up as a potential World Series preview?
The answer is simple and should be obvious to anyone who happened across my midseason MLB futures odds update on the NL West: I simply don't think the San Diego Padres will even sniff the playoffs this year, much less go on to win their third National League pennant.
Their hosts for this 3-game series, however, appear bound for the postseason as the Boston Red Sox top the AL East in the standings and on the MLB betting board. The BoSox are also heavy favorites for Tuesday's opener with veteran John Lackey on the mound opposite San Diego rookie Robbie Erlin. Boston opened around -185 and that moneyline has settled about 10¢ higher following overnight action. MLB odds for the contest also include a 9.5 run total that is juiced a bit more to the OVER at several outlets.
It is just the fifth time the Sox and Pads have met in interleague play, and Boston owns a short 7-5 advantage in the previous four series. The six games played in Boston have been halved, with San Diego winning two of three at Fenway Park two years ago when the clubs last got together. Just like the W-L records in Beantown, the totals have also split 3-3 on this diamond going back to the first time they clashed off Yawkey Way in 2004.
Padres Reach Town In Midst Of 3-Game Skid
Losing three of four in Miami is not how San Diego envisioned this 10-game trip back east beginning. The Padres managed to start the journey with a 9-2 win over the Marlins last Friday, but the bats then fell silent with just three runs crossing the plate the next three games, culminating with a 4-0 shutout last night.
Erlin has been up and down with the big league club three times this year, recently recalled to take Clayton Richard's spot in the rotation. He can reach 90-92 with his fastball despite his slight stature (5-11, 190), and brings a good curve and changeup while having great command of the strike zone.
After a couple of relief appearances earlier this year, Erlin has been a short underdog at home in the two starts since then.Both were quality efforts that the Padres split, but he will now be facing a Red Sox team that has won 15 of its last 20 in Boston, five of the first six on this stand.
Red Sox Move West After This Series
While the Padres are closing out their eastern swing with this series, the Red Sox will begin a long trek out west later this week to take them up to the all-star break. Finishing off a successful homestand could give them a good lift before taking on the Angels, Mariners and Athletics.
Lackey and the UNDER has been a solid option for your MLB picks so far this season. His last three starts fell short of the total, and 10 of his 13 outings finished below the number. A big part of that record has been the Texas native's performance at Fenway where Lackey has a 1.36 ERA in five assignments.
He'd just as soon forget his only other appearance vs. San Diego which came in June 2011 here in Boston. Lackey didn't make it out of the fourth having allowed five runs and issued four free passes in a Red Sox defeat.
Weather could be a factor in this game with a 60% chance of rain in The Hub today. Temps in the low-to-mid 70s are expected this evening with a 10 mph southerly blow (out to LF). Seeing Erlin for the first time could be trouble for Red Sox hitters, but I'm going to bet that won't happen and I will offer up a play on Boston for my free picks with a play on the run line.My Free MLB Picks: Red Sox -1.5 (+105) at Bet365