Game 4 begins with a battle of young and old on the mound where Jeremy Hellickson is up next for Tampa Bay and John Lackey toes the rubber for Boston. The Red Sox can be found as favorites in the -130 to -135 range according to the latest MLB odds, with a 9 run total offered for your scoreboard wagering consideration.
David Price muffled the Red Sox bats in Wednesday's 5-1 Tampa Bay triumph that pulled the Rays to within a half-game of Boston. It was Price's third complete game this month, none of which have seen the lefty reach the 100-pitch mark.
Hellickson's season has done an about-face since the end of May when he sported a 5.61 ERA and the Rays were 5-6 in his first 11 starts. The righthander has since recorded a 3.35 ERA in nine assignments with Tampa Bay winning eight, including the last six. The Rays have also won four of his last five outings away from Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay's current stretch of wins with Hellickson on the hill started in Boston on June 19 with a 6-2 decision over the Red Sox. It was his second start vs. Boston this season, and he's allowed just four runs, 10 hits and one walk in the 13 innings combined.
Lackey is coming off a loss to the Yankees last Saturday when he surrendered 10 hits and four runs before leaving in the seventh. That marked his second defeat in four July starts and left the Red Sox 8-9 in his assignments despite Lackey owning a sub-3.00 ERA. The Rays have not found him to be much of a mystery this season, scoring nine earned runs in 10 combined innings while stroking 19 hits.
The weatherman is calling for showers to develop in the Boston area this afternoon and into the evening when a 40% chance is currently listed for the first pitch. Since this is Tampa Bay's last scheduled trip to Fenway, expect the umpires to do everything to get the game in.
Those umpires include Brian Gorman who is scheduled to call the balls and strikes. His previous nine plate assignments have finished 2-6-1 O/U/P on the totals side, home favorites cashing five of seven times.
The streak of UNDERS at Fenway Park between these clubs is now at 13, and I see no reason to go against that run tonight. My free MLB pick will be on the low side of the total.