MLB Picks: Rays vs. Yankees Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013 12:04 PM UTC

SBR has free MLB picks and previews for the Yankees' final three home games of the year against the Rays in what should provide a playoff atmosphere in the Bronx.

26th SEPT
Thursday's Game Three

By: Willie Bee


The American League Wild Card race is now down to just three teams after the Tampa Bay Rays officially eliminated the New York Yankees with an 8-3 decision on Wednesday. While the Yanks are breathing a sigh of disappointment this morning, the Rays can't feel any relief despite the win since their hold on the top AL Wild Card slot remains tenuous.

Tampa Bay will have brooms on ready for a possible sweep Thursday when Alex Cobb goes to the hill for Joe Maddon's gang. Joe Girardi and the Yankees turn to Ivan Nova trying to at least give their fans a winner in the final home game of 2013. The Rays opened as very slight favorites before overnight action pushed the MLB odds up to -125 or so. A 7.5 run total favors the UNDER.

Will Mo Make One Last Curtain Call In Bronx?

New York celebrated Mariano Rivera on Sunday afternoon before a packed house in the Bronx. Rivera pitched later that day, a 5-out appearance in a 2-1 loss, but hasn't been on the mound since. You've got to think that regardless of the score tonight, Girardi will get Mo into the contest for his final home game before retiring. 

Girardi didn't need his bullpen at all the last time Nova was on the mound, a 6-0 whitewashing of the Giants last Saturday. It was Nova's second career shutout, the first coming at the end of August in a 2-0, 3-hit performance vs. the Orioles; between the two blank jobs he struggled in three assignments (14 IP, 11 ER combined). Thursday will be his fourth start vs. Tampa Bay this season, along with one relief outing, New York 1-2 in the three previous starts while Nova has posted a 2.53 ERA overall. 

Cobb is also coming off an outstanding performance, losing a shutout in the ninth last Saturday vs. Baltimore. Tampa Bay is 4-4 in his eight starts since coming back from the DL, Cobb posting a 2.73 ERA in that span. He and Nova met at The Trop on Aug. 25, but neither figured into the decision that went to New York in 11 innings, 3-2. Cobb beat the Yankees twice before with great outings at home, but lost his only start at Yankee Stadium in June 2012 (7 IP, 4 ER). 

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Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & A Pick

Laz Diaz (19-12-3 O/U/P) is next up in the umpire rotation to call balls and strikes. He worked two Yankee road games earlier this year, each staying UNDER, along with one Tampa home contest that pushed an 8 run total. His 34 plate assignments this season are split evenly between the visiting and home teams, with home 'dogs 6-4. 

Weather won't be a problem for the series finale with the thermometer in the low-to-mid 60s and clear skies. Only a hint of a NE breeze is in the forecast. Even though both pitchers are off great starts, I'm going to back the offenses tonight for my free pick.

My pick: Rays-Yankees Over 7.5 (+105) at Bet365

25th SEPT
Wednesday's Game Two

By: Willie Bee


Get a jump on today's baseball betting, read our MLB Betting Odds Report for Wednesday!

It's not often that a starting pitcher can walk six batters in five innings and still come away clean with no runs scoring, but that's what Tampa Bay Rays lefty Matt Moore did in Tuesday's series opener vs. the New York Yankees. Rays manager Joe Maddon called Moore "effectively wild," and Tampa Bay cruised to a 7-0 win to effectively end New York's hopes of the playoffs.

The Yankees will try and keep the dream alive in Game 2 when they send Phil Hughes to the hill. The Rays counter with David Price who is searching for his first victory in a month.

New York's late announcement that Hughes would pitch delayed an overnight release of the MLB odds. The first numbers to pop up Wednesday morning made Tampa Bay a -160 favorite with a 7.5 run total (U-120).


With Sabathia Sidelined, Yanks Turn To Hughes

This was to have been CC Sabathia's game to pitch for New York, but a hamstring injury suffered last Friday in a victory over the Giants ended the big lefty's season. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi will instead cross his fingers and hold his breath with Hughes.

Hughes is having a forgettable season, last picking up a victory on July 2nd in Minnesota. The right-hander has made it through six innings just twice in his last 10 starts, one of those shortened by rain, but as bad as Hughes has been, New York is 3-0 in his September assignments. The Yankees are also 2-0 in his two starts vs. Tampa Bay this year, one he pitched well (7 IP, 2 ER) and the other very poorly (4 IP, 5 ER).

Price's last win came against the Yankees on August 24th with six innings of 5-hit, 2-run baseball. Since then he's 0-3 (Rays 1-4) with an ERA just above 4.00. His only other start vs. the Yankees came on April 23rd at the Trop, the one time Hughes pitched well against the Rays. Price let a lead slip away from him in the eighth and ninth innings of the 4-3 New York triumph.

Behind The Plate, Mother Nature & a Pick

Responsibility for calling the pitches tonight falls to veteran umpire Mike Winters (16-17 O/U). He worked two road starts by Hughes earlier this season, those totals splitting, and home underdogs are 3-6 this season when Winters is behind the mask.

A few clouds will be in the skies above the Big Apple today and this evening, but no rain is in the Wednesday forecast. Game time should find the thermometer at the 67º mark with just a hint of a north breeze (left to right).

The total is where I'm going with my free sports pick in this one, and I like that number to skip past the 7.5 run mark.

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MLB Pick: Bet the Rays/Yankees on the total, OVER 7.5 (EV) at Bet365

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24th SEPT
Tuesday's Series Opener

By: Willie Bee


No longer in control of their own destiny, the New York Yankees will nonetheless be thinking playoffs Tuesday night when they open their last home series of 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Winning out still won't guarantee the Yankees a seat at the postseason table, but they could wreck it for the Rays who need to take at least two of three in the Bronx to continue their push towards playing on after this Sunday.

Read our Daily Baseball Odds & Betting Lines Report for an early edge in Tuesday's games!

Tampa Bay is the favorite to take Game 1 when Matt Moore hurls for the visitors opposite Hiroki Kuroda and the pinstripes. The earliest of MLB odds hung -115 to -120 on the Rays, and Tampa Bay can still be found in that moneyline range Tuesday morning. Totals vary with 7.5 the most popular number, a few MLB betting shops setting the scoreboard hurdle at 7.

The set opens with Tampa Bay up 9-7 in the season series, 4-3 at The House That George Built where the OVER is also 4-3 this season. This has been a pretty even series since '09, the Rays with the slight 45-43 edge in that span and 18-25 in New York.


Tampa Bay On Top Of Wild Card Race

The Rays reach NYC following their fourth consecutive victory on Monday afternoon against the Orioles, the sweep courtesy of a James Loney walk-off blast. After hitting a rough patch earlier this month, Tampa Bay has turned things around with nine wins in the last 12 games, good enough to give the Rays a 1-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Wild Card ranks, the Texas Rangers two games back in what is essentially a 3-team race right now.

Moore is making his fourth start since missing about five weeks with a tender left elbow. The southpaw looked pretty good in the first three -- all on the road and one of those outings shortened by a rain delay in Minnesota -- but then stumbled last Thursday at home vs. Texas when his own fat pitches shortened his evening (4 IP, 5 ER, 3 HR).

We can't forget Moore's first career MLB start came on this mound almost exactly two years ago. He struck out 11 in five shutout innings then, but his last three starts in this park have seen Moore combine for just over 14 innings with 13 earned runs coming plateward. Moore's overall numbers vs. the Yanks this season look fine with a 2-0 record (Rays 2-2) and 3.55 ERA, but the New York lineup has performed pretty well vs. lefties at 30-21, winning four of the last six.

Injuries Continue For Yankees With Sabathia Latest Victim

Then again, this is a New York lineup that hasn't exactly turned heads the last nine games. Eleven of the 25 runs scored in that span came in last Friday's and Saturday's wins over a Giants lineup which managed to score just three times all weekend and still win one game.

One of New York's wins was with CC Sabathia on the mound, and the lefty was expected to pitch in Game 2 of this series against David Price. That was before it was revealed the hamstring strain Sabathia suffered at the end of Friday's victory vs. San Francisco would keep him out of action the remainder of the year, including the playoffs should the Yankees reach that point. 

Kuroda, like Moore, was the ace of his staff earlier this year before falling off once calendars moved from July to August. New York has won just three of Kuroda's last nine assignments, his ERA above the square root of 25 in those 55.2 innings. One of the worst outings in that stretch came in St. Pete about a month ago where the Rays clouted four and scored seven times in the Yankee righthander's six frames. 

The weatherman is calling for a cool evening in the Bronx with a first-pitch temp in the mid-60s and the thermometer dripping into the upper-50s by game's end. A light 6-8 mph WNW breeze (out to right-center) is also in the mix.

I like the Yankees as small 'dogs in this fight; New York at home for my free sports pick in Game 1. 

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MLB pick: Yankees +102 at Bet365

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