Tampa is enjoying a successful road trip, while Seattle is going through a dismal home-stand. How are we playing the opener of a four-game weekend series at Safeco Park Thursday night?
Rays-Mariners Thursday Betting Lines
Most of Thursday's MLB betting market opened Seattle and lefty Roenis Elias at around -135 over Tampa and former Mariner Erasmo Ramirez, with a total of 7.5 runs. In the early betting many sportsbooks dropped that line as much as 20 cents, to around -115.
Tampa just took two of three games from the Angels in Anaheim, winning Wednesday's rubber match 6-5 in 10 innings. The Rays trailed early 4-0, took a 5-4 lead to the bottom of the ninth, blew that lead, then won it with a Kevin Kiermaier home run in the tenth.
Just before that Tampa took two of three in Baltimore.
At 28-26 the Rays trail first-place New York by one game in the AL East.
Seattle, on the other hand, just got swept three games at home by the Yankees, by scores of 7-2, 5-3 and 3-1. Just before that the Mariners lost three of four to Cleveland. So the M's are 1-6 on their current home-stand, scoring a total of just 17 runs. In fact, Seattle has been held to three runs or less in eight straight games.
At 24-29 the M's trail first-place Houston by 9.5 games in the AL West.
This is the second meeting between these teams this season. Last week the Mariners swept three games from the Rays in St. Pete, by scores of 4-1, 7-6 and 3-0.
Elias (2-2, 3.07), by our tough standards, is four-for-seven on quality starts this season. Last time out he gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings against Cleveland, but prior to that he went three straight starts of allowing just one run. For the season Elias has allowed 43 hits in 44 innings, with 16 walks and 34 strikeouts. Seattle is just 2-5 in Elias' starts, but that's not his fault. And the totals are a perfect 7-0 on the UNDERS in games he's started.
In two career starts against Tampa, including a winning effort ten days ago, Elias has allowed five runs through 13 2/3 innings. The Mariners won both those games.
Ramirez (3-2, 5.53) is just one-for-six on quality starts this year, but coming off his best outing so far, after tossing seven innings of three-hit, scoreless ball against Baltimore last weekend. On the season Ramirez has allowed fewer hits, 34, than innings pitched, 42 1/3, but the 17 walks are a bit much.
Tampa is 4-2 in Ramirez' starts, with the totals splitting 3-3.
Ramirez has never faced his former team before.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Tampa ranks fourth in the Majors against left-handed pitching this season with a .764 team OPS.
Seattle ranks 26th against right-handed pitching with a .669 team OPS.
Seattle added a stick to its arsenal by trading for Mark Trumbo Wednesday. The former American Leaguer was hitting .259 with nine homers this season for Arizona. As of this writing, whether he'll be in the lineup tonight is uncertain for MLB odds makers.
Rays-Mariners Free Picks
We give Elias the edge in the pitching matchup, but Tampa gets the check-mark for our MLB picks with the sticks and in the pen. We like the Rays to extend Seattle's recent misery. Also, the UNDERS are 16-11 in games played at Safeco Field this season, and we're thinking that lean will continue.