Baseball Picks: Yankees at Rays Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/24/2013
I really wish that Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster hadn't plunked the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night. I guarantee you that many in baseball were happy that Dempster plunked the cheating A-Rod, but teammate David Ortiz had this to say: "That pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up."
Ortiz might be right. New York hasn't lost since then entering Friday's series opener at Tampa Bay. The Yankees aren't going to win the AL East, but they are smack-dab in the middle of the wild-card chase, and they can close the gap with a good showing this weekend in St. Petersburg. Can you imagine if Rodriguez hits a World Series-winning home run this fall? How wrong would that be? It has to be baseball's worst nightmare. A-Rod has actually been fairly productive since making his debut, hitting .281 with two homers and six RBI. Doesn't sound like much, but for how bad the other Yankees third basemen were when A-Rod was out, it's a massive upgrade. New York is tied for the big-league league in runs since Rodriguez returned.
Yankees at Rays Betting Story Lines
By far the best move the Yankees have made all season was giving up a low-level prospect just to take on some of Alfonso Soriano's salary from the Cubs. Soriano is one of the streakiest players in baseball, capable of carrying a team for a month (then just as capable of doing nothing for a month). Soriano appears energized back with the Yankees. He hit the game-winning, two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth on Wednesday against Toronto. Actually, Soriano has been incredibly streaky in his short time in New York. He was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday after going 15-for-31 with five homers and 18 RBIs in a seven-game stretch last week. Then he was hitless in his next 17 at-bats before Wednesday's homer. Overall, Soriano is hitting .276 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 25 Yankee games entering Friday.
It's also possible the Yankees could welcome back Derek Jeter from the disabled list on Saturday. He has been on the DL since Aug. 5 and has played just five big-league games this year. Jeter played another game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday, and if there are no setbacks I think he will be activated Saturday. They need him badly, especially after losing Jayson Nix to a fractured left hand. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez is playing through a hamstring injury and hitting only .248 this year.
New York starts CC Sabathia (11-10, 4.83) on Saturday, and notice how I didn't write “ace”. The big lefty is clearly not what he used to be, and it's going to be yet another contract albatross that New York will highly regret over the next several years. Sabathia was rocked for six hits and walked five in 5.1 innings at Boston last time out. He actually won his second straight start, however, despite walking a total of 11 in those two. Sabathia was rocked on July 26 by the Rays, allowing seven runs and nine hits in five innings. He's 1-3 with an 8.31 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay in 2013. I'll be putting down money on an Evan Longoria prop here. He's batting .380 with six homers and 12 RBI in 50 at-bats off Sabathia. Yunel Escobar is 10-for-33 with two homers and 10 RBI.
The Rays start lefty David Price (7-5, 3.29). He's mostly been lights out since coming off the DL but wasn't totally sharp Monday in Baltimore, allowing 10 hits and two runs in five innings. He was the first pitcher in five years to get a win when allowing at least 12 baserunners and fewer than three runs while pitching the minimum of five innings needed for a victory. Price faced New York back on April 23 when he was stuff scuffling, allowing three runs and eight hits in eight innings. He's 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 120.1 innings against the Yanks. Curtis Granderson has four homers and eight RBI in 46 at-bats off Price but also 18 strikeouts. A-Rod is 9-for-37 with a homer and 14 strikeouts. Jeter has two homers and his hitting .294 in 51 at-bats.
Yankees at Rays MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Rays opened at -158 and the Yankees at +148 with a total of 8. All trends entering Friday: New York is 52-67-8 “over/under” (23-34-5 on road) and 67-60 on the runline. Tampa Bay is 56-61-8 O/U (30-31-3 at home) and 60-65 on the runline.
The Yankees are 4-1 in their past five against lefty starters. They are 5-2 in Sabathia's past seven road games. The Rays are 6-2 in their past eight Saturday games. Tampa is 1-7 in its past eight against lefty starters. It is 2-5 in Price's past seven home starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in Sabathia's past seven Saturday starts. The under is 8-0 in the Rays' past eight Saturday starts. Tampa Bay is 7-1 in the past eight when Price faces Sabathia. The over is 7-1-1 in Sabathia's past nine against Tampa Bay. New York is 0-7 in Sabathia's past seven starts at Tampa Bay.
Baseball Picks: Yankees at Rays Betting Predictions
I think the Yankees are really doing this with mirrors, and that the Tampa Bay pitching will do a number on them this weekend. The Rays were -155 series favorites. I expect Price to dominate, so take the Rays and the under -- double up and take Tampa on the runline as well.
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