MLB Picks: Red Sox at Royals Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/10/2013
The Kansas City Royals entered the All-Star break having lost five straight to drop to 43-49. I think Manager Ned Yost was in some trouble. The team was eight games out of the AL Central lead. However, entering Friday's Game 2 of their series against the visiting Boston Red Sox, the Royals had won 16 of 20 to climb to 59-53. So of course Kansas City must have gained a bunch of games on the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers, right? Uh, no. The Royals are 8.5 games back of the Tigers, who are even hotter than Kansas City is.
So forget the AL Central title. The Tigers did do the Royals a huge favor this week by thumping the Cleveland Indians in a four-game sweep. Now Kansas City is just 1.5 games behind the Tribe in the wild-card chase. The Tribe are three games out of the second spot. It definitely will be interesting to see those two, the Orioles, Rangers/A's (one will win the AL West) and Red Sox/Rays fight it out for those two spots. I think the Rays are a lock to get in (presuming Red Sox win division) so that's one spot for essentially four teams. I have dismissed the Yankees.
Thursday's series-opening win over Boston was pretty important considering the Red Sox also had been playing well and the Royals beat Jon Lester. He entered that start with a 1.64 ERA -- including a no-hitter -- in nine career starts against the Royals. That's the lowest by any pitcher who had pitched at least 50 innings against Kansas City. David Ortiz didn't play Thursday but he's not hurt, it was just a maintenance day off. He'll be in there Saturday.
Red Sox at Royals Betting Story Lines
Boston starts arguably its best pitcher on Saturday, left-hander Felix Doubront (8-5, 3.56) He blanked Arizona on five hits over seven innings last time out. It was the 15th straight start he held the opposition to three runs or fewer. It's the most by a Red Sox left-hander since at least 1920. It's the best by any Boston pitcher since Tim Wakefield went 17 straight in 1995 (hard to believe Pedro Martinez never did). Doubront hasn't faced the Royals this season and is 1-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 career innings against them.
No Royal has more than six official at-bats off Doubront. Lorenzo Cain has the only homer along with three RBI in two at-bats. Alex Gordon is 2-for-6 with an RBI. The All-Star has been scuffling since the break, which makes Kansas City's surge all the more impressive. Gordon is hitting just .175 in the second half (all starts entering Friday). Eric Hosmer has been raking in the second half, batting .333 with three homers and 13 RBI. He's 1-for-5 in his career off Doubront.
The Royals counter with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (12-7, 3.96). He had his best game of the season last time out, throwing a complete-game four-hitter against the Twins. Guthrie's seven strikeouts were his most since his first start of the year. Kansas City has won six of his past seven starts and hasn't lost one of his at home since June 21. Plenty of Sox hitters know Guthrie well. Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .381 with a homer and five RBI in 42 at-bats. Mike Napoli is 6-for-16 with two homers and four RBI. He has been struggling of late and has been moved down to sixth in the lineup against right-handers but will be back to fifth against lefties. Ortiz is at .342 with three homers and nine RBI in 38 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .327 against Guthrie.
Stephen Drew is the hottest Red Sox, batting .522 with two homers and seven RBI in the past seven days but hasn't seen Guthrie. Current Sox hitters are batting .359 off Guthrie with 10 homers in 192 at-bats. Thus it's no surprise Guthrie is 3-8 with a 4.94 ERA career against Boston. He pitched in Boston on April 21 this year and allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings of a no-decision.
Red Sox at Royals Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Red Sox opened at -118, the Royals +108 and a total of 8.5. All trends entering Friday: Boston is 54-58-5 “over/under” (28-27-2 on road) and 60-57 on the runline. Kansas City is 43-64-5 O/U (21-31-3 at home) and 56-56 on the runline.
Boston is 4-0 in its past four Game 3s of a series. The Sox are 12-3 in Doubront's past 15 Game 3 starts. The Royals are 5-0 in their past five Game 3s. They are 6-1 in their past seven against lefty starters. Kansas City is 12-0 in Guthrie's past 12 at home against teams with a winning record. It has won eight of Guthrie's past 11 Game 3 starts. The under is 4-0 in Doubront's past four. The under is 17-4 in Kansas City's past 21 Saturday games. The over is 4-0-1 in Guthrie's past five at home.
MLB Picks: Red Sox at Royals Betting Predictions
The Royals haven't won a season series against Boston since 2006 but can this weekend as they took a 3-1 lead into Friday night's game. They seem to be playing with a ton of confidence and usually hit when Guthrie is pitching at home. This is one of those lines where the Sox are only favored because they are such a public team. Take Kansas City and the under.
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