Free MLB Picks: Rays at Blue Jays and Reds at Cardinals Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/1/2010
Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m.
The line: Toronto +133 (9)
How they enter: Toronto won the opening game on Monday night, 3-2, as the Rays’ Evan Longoria was thrown out at home as the potential tying run in the ninth inning.
Scouting report: The Rays don’t look right, as they have lost six of eight games overall to see their AL East lead cut to 2.5 games over the Yankees. Tampa Bay still has by far the best road record in baseball. The Blue Jays have now won four straight and nine of their last 10 home games. Toronto has hit 26 homers and averaged more than seven runs per game in its last 10 at home. The Jays lead the majors with 89 total homers. Rays starting SS Jason Bartlett (right hamstring) missed his second straight game and will not start in this series, which is a loss for Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in Monday’s win. He entered the game batting .125 (9-for-72) since May 10, the second-lowest batting average in the major leagues over that span. If Toronto wins tonight it wins this three-game series, which would be notable as the Jays have lost seven straight series to Tampa Bay. The Rays are big favorites tonight because the Jays start lefty Brian Tallet (1-1, 6.11). He just came off the DL after being pretty lousy in April – and he was hit around pretty good in Triple-A as well. He is likely pitching to keep a spot in the rotation tonight and his 2-1 against with a 6.03 ERA over 31 1/3 career innings. Hard to bet against Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann (5-0, 2.37) as he has nine consecutive quality starts, the longest active streak in the American League. He is 2-1 with a 4.67 ERA all-time against the Rays.
The pick: Obviously the pitching numbers favor Tampa Bay, but I like the Jays at +133. They are a very solid club at home and the Rays are in the midst of a bit of a slump. Also love the ‘under’.
Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals, 8:15 p.m.
The line: Reds +109/Cardinals -116 (8)
How they enter: The Reds remain tied for first with the Cards in the NL Central despite having dropped two games in a row, including Monday’s 12-4 loss to St. Louis. The Cards have won two in a row and four of five – scoring at least seven runs in each of those victories.
Scouting report: I think the Cardinals are about to go on a nice run as their bats have returned. Albert Pujols was in a very uncharacteristic slump but then hit three homers on Sunday in Chicago. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI on Monday and has 10 RBI in his past five games. And Matt Holliday also is hitting again, as he is 9-for-18 the last five games. Over the last five games, Pujols and Holliday are a combined 18-of-38 (.474) with 15 RBI. The Cardinals had a season-high for runs (12) and hits (16) while improving to 16-8 at home with Monday’s win. Six Cardinals had two hits and seven players had at least one RBI Monday. Tonight’s pitching matchup features Cincy’s Johnny Cueto (5-1, 3.25). This will be his first career start at Busch Stadium. He has gone 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his previous six starts, and he's unbeaten in his five previous starts against the Cardinals. Cueto held opponents to a .182 average in May. The Cards start P.J. Walters (1-0, 2.00). It’s his first career start at Busch and second MLB start overall after pitching five shutout innings against San Diego.
The pick: I’m a big Cueto fan, but getting St. Louis as such a relatively low price in a home game is too good to pass up, especially with Pujols and Holliday raking. Plus, with two guys making their first start in a stadium, well, I think this game is high scoring so also take the ‘over’.
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