Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Their position at the top of the AL East threatened, the Boston Red Sox got a much-needed lift from Jon Lester on Tuesday to beat the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston will now turn to one of its most consistent hurlers over the last month in Game 3 that will be featured in a prime-time ESPN broadcast.
The 7:10 PM (ET) matchup at Fenway Park features an all-southpaw mound duel between Tampa Bay's David Price and Boston's Felix Doubront. MLB odds for the clash have the Rays as $1.20 favorites, with most betting outlets listing an 8.5 run total that is carrying a little extra juice on the OVER.
Just one night after being blanked and held to two hits by Tampa's Matt Moore, Boston's bats broke out with 12 hits in Tuesday's 6-2 triumph. More important than that was Lester's performance after a 10-day layoff. Lester worked into the seventh and allowed two solo homers to account for the Rays' only runs, striking out eight and not issuing a free pass in the process.
Price is coming off his worst start since returning from the DL on July 2, but got the win in Toronto last Friday despite serving up three long balls and allowing four runs over seven frames. Not only has he worked at least seven innings in all four post-DL assignments, but Price has done so efficiently with just 353 pitches in 32 combined frames.
The former Vanderbilt standout saw the Red Sox just before heading to the DL and clearly wasn't himself (2.1 IP, 4 ER). Price worked six innings and allowed just a run with eight strikeouts in a no-decision at Fenway on April 13.
We saw Doubront last Friday when he kicked off Boston's second half against the Yankees with his third straight winning performance. It was also his fourth consecutive quality start and fifth in six assignments, a string that began with eight shutout innings against the Rays in Boston on June 18. Doubront ended up with a no-decision in that contest, as he did in Tampa Bay on May 16, but both went into the win column for the Red Sox.
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It should be a fairly nice evening in Beantown, though a bit on the humid side. The thermometer should fall through the 70s during the game with partly cloudy skies and just a hint of a NNW breeze (in from LF). Larry Vanover will work the dish for the umpire crew, and his last five plate assignments failed to reach the scoreboard tally to bring his season record to 7-10 O/U. The UNDER is 1-5 when the total is 8.5 or higher.
Doubront is pitching well, Price has a good track record at Fenway, and we have now seen the UNDER cash in the last 12 games on this diamond between these clubs. I'm going to ride that streak with another play on the UNDER.
My MLB Pick: Rays-Red Sox Under 8.5 (-105) at Bet365
Don't forget to check out the Wednesday Betting Lines & Odds Report to get a comprehensive breakdown of today's betting.
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Brandon Workman once again enjoyed a strong outing, and the Boston Red Sox once again couldn't support him with enough offense to get the win in their series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston now turns to Jon Lester in the second matchup of the 4-game set while Roberto Hernandez answers the call for Joe Maddon and the Rays.
The Red Sox opened the baseball betting proceedings as $1.60 favorites, but money on Tampa Bay has since pushed that price down to $1.45. A 9.5 run total priced about 20¢ to the OVER is also listed at most books monitored by SBR's live MLB odds.
You can't blame it all on Boston's offense in Game 1 since the Rays had Matt Moore on the mound. The talented southpaw made his first MLB complete game a memorable one with a 2-hit shutout against baseball's top offense in the 3-0 victory. It was Tampa Bay's sixth consecutive win, and 14th in the last 15 contests.
Hernandez has strung together four consecutive quality starts for the first time this season, but none of the outings would qualify as a dominant effort and the Rays only managed to win two of the four. It has been 10 days since he was last on the mound, a 4-3 victory vs. Houston, and nearly two months since he helped Tampa Bay to a win on the road where the Rays are just 2-6 with him on the hill (5.74 ERA).
He did beat the Red Sox in St. Pete in mid-June with Rays hitters backing him well in the 8-3 triumph. It has been close to three year since Hernandez last appeared at Fenway, tossing seven good frames in a 6-5 Cleveland win when he was known as Fausto Carmona.
Lester was on the losing end of Hernandez's June 11 win at Tropicana Field, surrendering seven runs before leaving in the fifth inning. Like his counterpart, Lester will also be taking the mound on 10 days rest after being scratched from Sunday night's win over the Yankees. The southpaw beat the Rays twice before that loss, once each at Fenway and The Trop with a combined 14 IP and only three runs crossing the plate.
Game 2 should find Tony Randazzo behind the mask to call the balls and strikes. He is 6-12-1 O/U/P on the season, and 1-7-1 O/U/P in his last nine plate assignments. All signs point to a very wet day in Boston with rain already falling Tuesday morning.The chance of rain decreased to about 50% at game time when temps are expected in the upper-70s.
It's very tempting to take the OVER with these two pitchers squaring off, but it's also difficult to ignore the fact the last 12 at Fenway between these teams stayed UNDER. The low side of the total will be my play in Tuesday's tilt.
My MLB Pick: Rays-Red Sox Under 9.5 (+100)
By: Willie Bee
If Boston Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman can top his first major league start when he faces the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, it'll be the stuff of legend in Beantown sports lore. Let's look at the matchup for our MLB picks.
The next four days in Boston should provide something of a playoff atmosphere, and we'll be on hand to preview and provide free plays for all four games between the AL East foes. The Red Sox lead the division and the American League with a 60-40 mark (.600), the only team in the majors to have already reached the 100-game point on the schedule, and Tampa Bay is close behind in both races at 58-41 (.586). If not for Boston's domination in the season series, something we'll detail a bit later, it very well could be the Rays on top of the AL East and Junior Circuit.
Manager John Farrell's decision to start Workman in the series opener delayed the MLB odds release for Monday's clash. Tampa Bay drew the -120 chalk line for Game 1 behind left-handed All-Star Matt Moore, and scoreboard bettors are facing a 9 run mark for their wagering decision.
Workman Seeks 1st MLB Win Against Red-Hot Rays
Granted, Workman's first MLB starting assignment resulted in a loss for the Red Sox, but it certainly wasn't because of the rookie's effort. He got the nod from Farrell in the final game before the all-star break and responded by taking a no-hitter into the seventh at Oakland. A Coco Crisp infield single broke that up, and one out later Josh Donaldson homered to end Workman's day.
A 2nd-round pick out of the University of Texas where he led the Longhorns in 2010 with 12 wins, Workman has been very consistent working his way through the Red Sox system. He pitched at Double-A and Triple-A this year before getting called up, posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 16 starts and a relief outing. The righthander has four pitches that are MLB quality, and he's going to need them Monday against a Rays team that just swept the Blue Jays in Toronto and has won 17 of its last 19 contests.
Moore saw the Boston lineup in St. Pete back in May and got the win despite going in the hole three-zip to open the top of the first thanks to a Big Papi blast. It was one of his better performances against the Red Sox, in fact, the only time Moore has beaten Boston in three starts and a long relief outing; Moore's lone assignment in The Fens (May 15, 2012) was a bit of a disaster with Boston tacking six runs on his ledger, all of them earned and David Ortiz going 3-for-4 with a ribbie and two plate crossings.
Also follow my series coverage of the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros' set.
Sox & Under Trending In Boston
Boston has won nine of the 12 matchups with Tampa Bay this year, including five of the six played at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won the first five meetings in Boston and all six stayed UNDER the total.
The low side of the scoreboard hurdle has been nothing short of a cash cow for bettors going back to 2012 with the last 11 at Beantown's historic diamond never reaching the total. The most runs scored in one game during the streak is eight, which was a 6-2 Rays win about a month ago when the clubs last collided.
Things have cooled off following last week's heat wave that settled in on much of the northeast. Cloudy skies will help keep today's high in Boston below the 80º mark, but those clouds are also bringing a 30%-40% chance of a passing storm this evening.
Boston is coming off an emotional win Sunday that saw the Red Sox rally from a 3-0 hole, blow a 7-3 lead and finally beat the Yankees in the 11th on Mike Napoli's walk-off clout, his second homer of the evening. The victory gave the Sox the series vs. New York, the ninth straight series they've won or tied at home, and left Boston 14-3 in the last 17 games at Fenway. I'm going to back Workman as the underdog and count on the Red Sox to cool off the Rays, if only for one night.
My pick: Red Sox +100 at bet 365