MLB Picks: Rays at Red Sox Series Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/11/2011
The Boston Red Sox appear to have righted the ship, as taking two of three over the weekend from the hated New York Yankees helped calm a panicked Red Sox Nation. I really hate that term – now every team uses “nation.” Sacramento Kings Nation. Real Salt Lake Nation. But I digress. Anyways, the desperate team tonight is the Tampa Bay Rays. The reigning AL East champions look like the worst team in baseball – and in fact they do have MLB’s worst record at 1-8. Boston is a -225 series favorite at WagerWeb with Tampa Bay at +160.
How the Teams Enter
Well, if you read my Yankees-Red Sox series preview you cashed in. I predicted the Red Sox taking two of three – although I must admit I thought it would be the first two games of the series. But Sunday night’s performance was the best of the season for Boston. Josh Beckett was brilliant and the Red Sox beat AL Cy Young favorite CC Sabathia. Going into Sunday's game, Red Sox starters were 1-5 with a 7.41 ERA this year. They still have just two quality starts so far. Dustin Pedroia was the star of the series as he got on base in 10 of his last 11 trips to the plate. The second baseman went 9-for-13 with four extra base hits and five RBI against the Yankees. Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was hit in the left knuckles by Sabathia. His left pinkie was swollen, but no X-rays were taken and Gonzalez said he's OK. This will be the first time ex-Ray Carl Crawford faces his former team. Maybe that will help. He went 1-for-15 against the Yanks and is hitting .132 this season.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, not only lost three of four over the weekend at the White Sox, but they also lost the cheating Manny Ramirez to retirement. Too bad. It would have been fun to see Manny and Johnny Damon together and back on Boston. The Rays are the worst offensive team in the majors by far. And by comparison, the Rays didn’t lose their eighth game last year until May 8 – they were 22-8 at the time. The Rays are batting .163 as a team and have scored more than two runs just once. They have had five games where they scored one run and had exactly four hits (including yesterday). Manager Joe Maddon said there are no big changes on the horizon, although obviously hitting coach Derek Shelton is the one guy mentioned on the hot seat.
Here’s a cool stat: Had Boston lost on Sunday night, Monday’s game would have been Major League Baseball's first-ever meeting of 1-8 teams.
Rays at Red Sox Series Probables
Monday: Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 4.76) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-1, 5.40) – Hellickson is the main reason the Rays were comfortable trading Matt Garza to the Cubs. Hellickson struck out 10 in just 5 2/3 innings in his first start vs. the Angels, allowing three runs. Dice-K gave up six hits and three runs over five innings against Cleveland. In 12 career starts against the Rays, the right-hander is 2-6 with a 5.09 ERA.
Tuesday: David Price (0-2, 4.85) vs. Jon Lester (0-0, 3.65) – Price, last year’s AL Cy Young runner-up, allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings in a loss to the White Sox in his last start. He loves Fenway, though, as he is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his career there. Lester, who usually struggles until the calendar reaches May, was stellar last time out. He threw seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine in a no decision against the Indians.
Wednesday: James Shields (0-1, 4.73) vs. John Lackey (1-1, 15.58) – Shields was arguably the worst pitcher in the AL last year and is 1-7 with a 7.71 ERA career at Fenway. He did pitch decently last time out vs. the White Sox. Lackey has been terrible. Yeah he won his last start but allowed seven hits and six runs over five innings against the Yankees. Boston already regrets that big contract.
MLB Picks: Rays at Red Sox Predictions
At that huge price for the series it’s almost hard to take Boston – but the Rays without Evan Longoria (still out injured for a while) are totally inept offensively. I could see them winning tonight, but I think Boston has gotten it together and takes two of three.
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