Boston's bats were the story in an 11-4 Red Sox win Monday over the Blue Jays, but Toronto is favored on the MLB odds behind RA Dickey in Tuesday's matchup.
Even when the first place team in a division is playing the squad down in last, the games are huge as the MLB playoff races head down the stretch to the end of the regular season. That's just the scenario we have in this week in Boston where the cellar-dwelling Red Sox are hosting the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays.
The division rivals continue their 3-game set at Fenway Park under the lights on Tuesday when a tricky old veteran battles a young rookie in a 7:10 PM (ET) contest. RA Dickey is up next for the Blue Jays who are currently priced at -142 on the morning nickel line at 5Dimes. Henry Owens is making just his seventh career start for the Red Sox, and the baseball betting board is showing the day's biggest total for a contest with a 10 run scoreboard tally.
Toronto (78-59, +7.7 units) came to town on Monday to begin a huge 10-game road trip, sporting a 1½-game lead over the Yankees, the team they'll meet next in the Bronx. That gap shrunk to just a half-game following am 11-4 upset win by Boston (65-72, -10.4 units) coupled with a New York victory.
The Red Sox win left the season series between the clubs in a 7-7 deadlock, Toronto holding a slim 4-3 edge in the games played in Boston. Monday's 'over' continued the trend at Fenway for the season with six of the seven games played here having sailed past the MLB odds.
BoSox 3-1 vs. Dickey, Jays In 2015
Even before the Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki, they had one of the better lineups in the American League, but it has really taken off since the former Rockies shortstop arrived at the end of July. Toronto leads the Junior Circuit averaging 5.48 runs per game, that figure even higher at 6.13 RPG in the 36 games played after Tulo's insertion into the mix.
It also hasn't hurt for Dickey to find a winning form on the hill. Toronto has won the knuckleballer's last nine starts, Dickey's ERA a sparkling 2.75 in those 72 innings, and he's coming off a 92-pitch complete game victory last Wednesday over the Indians.
The flip side is the Jays lost three of his four assignments against Boston in the first half of the campaign, Dickey sporting a 5.76 ERA in those outings, 4.85 in the two that took place in Boston. David Ortiz has been tough on the 40-year-old Nashville native, Big Papi hitting .321 (9-28) with three dongs off Dickey.
Owens' baptism against major league hitters continues with a matchup against the league's top offense six days after getting shelled by the Yankees on this mound. The Bronx Bombers chased the young southpaw two outs into the second inning, scoring seven times to beat him for a second time this year. It's his first career look at the Blue Jays who are 19-12 in 2015 when facing left-handed starters.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Jim Reynolds is slated to call balls and strikes for umpire crew N on Tuesday, and that could be great news for the Red Sox since the 17-year veteran arbiter has been such a good friend to home teams this year. Of his 28 plate assignments in 2015, the home team has won 24 of them, including all four when moneyline underdogs on the baseball odds. One of those home team wins came at Fenway back in April, Reynolds' first game under the mask in Boston since May 2012. Totals are running 14-11-3 O/U/P, two of the 'over' winners involving the Blue Jays, one of those with Dickey on the bump.
Summer temps are going to linger in the Boston area at least another couple of days, the weatherman calling for a first-pitch reading of 86º this evening with an 8-10 mph SW breeze (out to center). My crystal ball keeps showing images of Toronto runners circling the bases, so my free MLB pick is a run line play on the visitors.
MLB pick: Blue Jays -1½ (+107) at 5Dimes