The Red Sox beat the Yankees three times in four games at Fenway Park over the weekend, which helped them close the gap on the AL East leaders. Catching the Yankees in the division is still very unlikely, but Boston is a team trending in the right direction. The defending World Series champs also went down to St. Petersburg and took two of three from the Rays last week, which narrowed Boston’s deficit in the Wild Card race.
Now, the Rays will head to Boston to begin a huge series at Fenway starting Tuesday night. Tampa Bay’s lead over the Red Sox is down to just a half-game in the Wild Card race, though both teams would miss out on the playoffs if the postseason were to begin today. The Rays are a half-game adrift of the A’s for the second Wild Card spot entering play tonight.
We have a couple of upper-tier pitchers taking the mound on Tuesday. Charlie Morton will toe the rubber for the Rays, while the Red Sox will counter with David Price. Boston is currently a -140 favorite on the moneyline in a game with an implied total of 9 ½ runs.
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The Rays are a team that hasn’t been in contention all that much in recent years. Tampa Bay won 90 games a season ago, but that still wasn’t good enough to get them a spot in the postseason. With the Rays staring at a possible playoff appearance this time around, they are expected to be buyers at the upcoming trade deadline.
Tampa Bay has already made one move, as they acquired versatile infielder Eric Sogard from the Blue Jays.
Sogard is obviously far from a star-level player, but he’s a veteran with a good clubhouse reputation. His teammates and coaching staff in Toronto spoke glowingly of him after the deal, so the Rays should benefit from his leadership qualities. It also doesn’t hurt that Sogard is enjoying a career year at the plate.
They’re not expected to be done either. The Rays just lost former Cy Young winner Blake Snell for the foreseeable future last week, so it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Tampa Bay get involved in the starting pitching market. They aren’t expected to make a run at a guy like Noah Syndergaard, but a lesser-known commodity may come in to try and eat some innings. With Snell on the shelf, Morton is now the unquestioned ace of the staff.
Morton has been as advertised in his first year with the team. He inked a two-year deal worth $30 million in the offseason, and it’s looking like a bargain at this point. The veteran has a strikeout rate of 31%, which puts him among the league leaders. His xFIP of 3.23 is one of the best marks in the American League, and in his last start, he struck out 11 Red Sox while allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits over the course of seven dominant innings.
That said, he certainly benefited from the pitcher-friendly conditions offered at the Trop last time out. Tropicana Field is one of the more cavernous parks in the league, and the domed roof helps keep the ball from flying in the warm Florida summer air. Moving to Fenway represents a pretty substantial park downgrade for Morton. Fenway is a top-3 hitter’s park in all of baseball, and it’s going to be downright hot at first pitch tonight.
It’s expected to rain this afternoon in Boston. While the rain will have moved out by game time, it’s still expected to be humid and muggy when the game starts. It will be 89 degrees at first pitch, and the wind will be blowing out to left field—toward the Green Monster— at around 10 miles an hour.
The Price Is Right
The Red Sox haven’t lived up to expectations this season, which has effectively overshadowed the solid season the team is getting out of David Price. Through 19 starts, Price is 7-4 with a 3.66 ERA. His 3.65 xFIP shows that the ERA is legit, and he has a decent strikeout rate of 28%. He has also cut his walk rate to 6.6%, and he’s keeping the ball on the ground at a decent clip (43.3%).
Price also faced the Rays last week. He allowed 3 runs on 4 hits over the course of six innings of work with eight strikeouts. The matchup is decent on paper, as the Tampa Bay lineup has profiled much worse against left-handed pitching all season long. The Rays’ projected lineup has a 25.7% strikeout rate against left-handed pitching with a team wOBA of .316. Against right-handed pitching, the strikeouts go down (24.5%), while the wOBA goes up (.321).
We have a couple of quality pitchers on the mound, but the warm weather and the fact that both offenses are plenty talented has me thinking Vegas could be undervaluing this game from a scoring perspective. 9 ½ isn’t a low total by historical standards, but this season, it is fairly average. Fenway Park is one of the premier run-scoring environments in all of baseball, and the fact that these pitchers faced these same opposing teams just last week means the hitters should have a decent idea regarding what to expect.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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