Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox close out their three game series with the rubber match on Sunday at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox are -150 favorites over the Rays with an over/under run total set at 8.
The Tampa Bay Rays are very much still in the race but in order to make a move they are going to need to take advantage of their head to head meetings with the teams in front of them in the standings, something they didn’t do in Saturday’s game against the Red Sox. Matt Joyce had three hits including a solo home run and Casey Kotchman and B.J. Upton both had two hits for the Rays who scored just five runs off of 13 hits as the stranded 10 runners, many in scoring position with less than two outs. On the mound James Shields couldn’t hold the lead as he allowed six hits and six runs while striking out eight to take his fourth loss in a row and eighth loss of the season. For Sunday’s game Tampa Bay looks to take the series and gain a game in the standings as they start Jeff Niemann who has won his last three decisions including both of his last two starts. For the season Niemann has allowed 62 hits and 27 earned runs while striking out 33 in 53.2 innings of work.
The Boston Red Sox lead the American League East and on Saturday they took maximum advantage of their opportunities to get the win. Josh Reddick hit a two run home run and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each hit solo shots while David Ortiz drove in three runs as the Red Sox converted nine hits into nine runs. On the mound John Lackey allowed 10 hits and four runs, three of them earned, while striking out seven over 5.2 innings of work to earn his seventh win of the year but upon his leaving the game he had words with Manager Terry Francona which may have ramifications down the road. For Sunday Night’s prime time start Boston gives the ball to Josh Beckett who despite a rising ERA over his last three starts, he continues to win. For the season Beckett has allowed 72 hits and 28 earned runs while striking out 94 in 111 innings of work.
Tampa Bay is 5-2 in their last seven home games against a team with a winning road record, 7-4 in their last 11 home games, and 1-5 in Niemann’s last six starts against a team in the AL East. Boston is 6-1 in their last seven games against a right handed starter, 22-8 in their last 30 road games, and 5-2 in Beckett’s last seven road starts. Boston is 6-11 in the last 17 meetings of these two.
While Boston won on Saturday, it had a lot to do with mistakes by the Rays which didn’t let them take advantage of their chances. The Rays have owned this match up and getting odds against Beckett who looks to be pitching with an injury looks like the play. I’m taking the Rays plus the 130
Tampa Bay Rays +130 Boston Red Sox