The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays take their weekend series to a rubber game on Sunday when the home team is a big favorite on the MLB odds.
Red Sox vs. Rays Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Struggling to score some runs the past few days, the bottom of the Tampa Bay order came through with home runs to help the Rays to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the middle match of their weekend set.
The two rivals will now take things to a third and deciding game on Sunday, first pitch set for 1:10 PM (ET) at Tropicana Field and to be delivered by Tampa's Chris Archer. The Rays are overwhelming favorites across the baseball betting board, -175 presently showing up at 5Dimes.
Justin Masterson has rejoined the Red Sox following a stint on the disabled list, and SBR's live MLB odds has 6½ for the total at every sports book, each of them pricing the 'over' a bit more.
Both Starters With Ugly Numbers In This Rivalry
After beginning the season in Boston's rotation, and failing miserably over seven assignments, Masterson hit the DL with shoulder issues and as recently been on a rehab assignment. Four starts and the Double-A and Triple-A levels yielded a 3.44 ERA over 18.1 combined innings, and the Red Sox initially toyed with the idea of bringing him up as a long reliever before deciding to use him as a replacement in the starting mix for Joe Kelly.
One of his previous outings for the Sox came against the Rays in Boston on May 6, Masterson walking six and charged with four runs before being relieved in the fifth. It's his first appearance in St. Petersburg since 2013 when he was with the Indians, and the big righthander is 1-4 with a 6.68 in six starts and a relief call under this dome.
Archer picked up his ninth win of the 2015 campaign, and the team's fifth consecutive dubya with him on the hill, this past Tuesday in a 4-3 decision vs. the Blue Jays. One unearned run cost him in a 1-0 home loss to the Red Sox on April 21, leaving the young hurler 1-5 with a 5.17 ERA in eight career assignments against Boston.
Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Hal Harrison 'Tripp' Gibson III draws the plate assignment for Sunday's finale, yet another young umpire serving on Brian Gorman's crew for this series. Like Saturday's plate ump Adam Hamari, Gibson is in just his second full MLB season and brings a level 7-7 O/U record on the baseball betting totals into this matchup. The Kentucky native's last four contests have all skipped 'over' the marks, however, and his lone appearance at Tropicana Field this year was a start by Archer that fell short of the figure.
Tampa has dropped five games started by Archer all season, and four have come at home. I'm playing a hunch that today will be the fifth home loss, making my free baseball pick on Boston.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +179 at 5Dimes
Red Sox vs. Rays Game 2
By: Willie Bee
It took an extra inning on Friday, but the Boston Red Sox had just enough to nip the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of their weekend set, upsetting the MLB odds as the underdogs.
The loss was the third in four games for Tampa Bay on this homestand, and the Rays will attempt to even this series Saturday afternoon (4:10 PM ET) while serving as small home chalk once again. Matt Andriese gets the call for Kevin Cash and the Rays who saw their lead in the AL East shrink to just a half-game ahead of the Yankees. 5Dimes presently has Tampa listed at -120, the same moneyline we saw on Friday's baseball betting card, Boston backers getting a +110 return.
Wade Miley is up next for the Red Sox, a 7½ run total priced an extra nickel or more on the 'under' for scoreboard bettors.
Andriese Set To Face Sox For 1st Time In Career
Boston finally 86'd Joe Kelly from the rotation and sent him to Triple-A on Thursday to hopefully regain his form, but early on this year, it looked like Miley might be the most likely arm in John Farrell's rotation to suffer that fate. The southpaw posted an 8.62 ERA in April, but has since turned things around with a 6-4 record and 3.46 ERA.
Miley and Farrell, uh, let's say "talked things over" a couple of outings ago in Baltimore, and the former SE Louisiana stud has responded with two victories since then. Miley has also had his way with the Rays over his career, the Diamondbacks and Red Sox winning all three of his assignments vs. Tampa Bay while Miley recorded a microscopic 0.47 ERA (19 IP).
Andriese took the loss in Monday's series opener against the Blue Jays, the rookie hurler having trouble keeping balls in the park as Toronto hitters reached him for three homers during his 5+ innings of work. All six home runs he's allowed have come at home where Andriese now owns a 4.33 ERA (27 IP) compared to a 2.08 mark in very limited road action. It was just the fifth start of the rookie's career, Andriese also making five long relief appearances along the way, and Saturday will be his first-ever look at the Red Sox.
Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Now working his second full season as a major league umpire, Adam Hamari will call balls and strikes for the middle game of the set. He began the season with a strong 'over' lean, and is still 9-6-1 O/U/P, but has trended 'under his last three plate assignments (0-2-1 O/U/P). Hamari worked the dish in a mid-May contest in St. Pete, his first at Tropicana Field, and that match between the Rays and Yankees fell short of the MLB odds.
The Rays are in a funk, and despite both Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez being out of the Boston lineup, I'm going to play the visitors once more for my free baseball pick.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +110 at 5Dimes
Red Sox vs. Rays Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
They don't like each other to begin with, and with frustration beginning to boil over for the Boston Red Sox, it could lead to even more bad tempers this weekend when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
The division rivals open things up Friday night in St. Petersburg in a 7:10 PM (ET), Boston sending a struggling Rick Porcello to the hill against Tampa's Alex Colome. After the Rays opened in the low -130s, they've settled in at -120 on BetOnline's morning line, the same shop offering a 7½ run total (U -120) on their MLB odds board.
Boston has an overwhelming advantage in this rivalry since it began in 1998, but the Rays have been cutting into that margin by winning or tying six of the last seven season series. They're up 4-2 this year as well, taking two of three in each of the previous two get-togethers that were played in late-April and early-May.
It's interesting to note that both Tampa Bay losses to the Red Sox this season were shutouts, 1-0 and 2-0, a quarter of the eight times the Rays have been blanked in 2015. Two of three April games in St. Pete fell short of the baseball betting totals, leaving 'under' bettors a healthy 7-2 in the last nine played at Tropicana Field.
Sox Lose Pedroia To DL
The Red Sox were home the past few days, but it probably felt more like an away series since they've been traveling for more than a week and now head out on the road for seven games. Boston (32-42, -17.8 units) flew in Thursday evening after dropping two of three in their series at Fenway to Baltimore, and continue life out of a suitcase next week in Toronto for four before enjoying a nice homestand heading into the All-Star Game.
As if manager John Farrell doesn't already have enough issues to deal with to try and turn around his club, he won't have the services of Dustin Pedroia for the next two weeks with Hanley Ramirez iffy for the weekend. Pedroia injured a hamstring on Wednesday and the Red Sox wasted little time putting their second baseman on the DL. Ramirez suffered a bruised hand the same day, missed Thursday's game and is currently day-to-day.
Porcello might be advised to go back and look at film of his May 5 start against the Rays in Boston. The former 1st-round pick by Detroit (2007) tossed the first seven frames of a 2-0 victory, and appeared at that time to be on the verge of turning around a disastrous start to his Sox career. Porcello has since reverted to his earlier struggles, however, and Boston enters Friday's fracas having lost each of his last six assignments. He has split his four career starts at Tropicana Field, each of those in a Tigers jersey, while recording a 2.14 ERA (29.1 IP).
Rays Hold Slim Lead In Packed AL East
Tampa Bay (41-33, +7.9 units) enjoyed an off day on Thursday for the first time in more than two weeks, the break coming after dropping two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays. Two of the three losses on this homestand were 1-0 contests, Wednesday's series finale going 12 innings before Toronto's Chris Colabello plated the game's lone run with a solo homer.
The 1-0 setback before that came with Colome on the hill, continuing the team's string of six consecutive losses when the Dominican climbs the hill. When he pitches well, either the offense doesn't show up or his bullpen collapses, and the former was certainly the case against the Indians last Sunday when Colome threw seven innings of 1-hit, shutout baseball. He beat the Red Sox in Boston back in May, working five and allowing two runs in the 5-3 decision. That was Colome's first time to face the Beantowners, and the Rays are 2-4 in his half-dozen home assignments this season thanks to his 5.34 ERA at The Trop.
Tampa Bay's lineup went cold in the series against the Blue Jays this week, costing me some green, and even though Porcello has been struggling, he's done well against the Rays. I'm going to make my free baseball pick in the opener on the Red Sox.
MLB Pick: Red Sox +110 @ BetOnline
Willie Bee's MLB Handicapping Record This Season: 56-48-2 (+ 8.55)