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Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals Betting Preview

Monday night will feature an American League battle of AL East versus AL Central teams as the Tampa Bay Rays (8-8) take on the Kansas City Royals (9-5). The Royals will host this one at Kauffman Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.

The Rays sit just two games behind the Boston Red Sox for the top spot in the AL East. Tampa Bay is coming off a solid weekend where it swept the New York Yankees, including a 4-2 win on Sunday. In the win, Joey Wendle hit his third home run of the season.

The Royals are one of the surprise stories of the early season. They currently lead the AL Central and took three of four from the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend. They have now won five of their last six and are rolling coming into play Monday.

The Royals are the slight favorite playing at home. They are -112 to win while the Rays’ moneyline sits at +102. The over/under for total runs is 7.5.

Pitching Matchup

On Monday, there will be a battle of southpaws. The Rays will send Josh Fleming (0-1, 1.80 ERA) to the mound.

In his last outing, a 5-1 loss to the Rangers, Fleming went five innings, allowing four hits, two walks and one run. He will look to build on this against the Royals.

Kansas City will send veteran Danny Duffy (2-0, 0.75 ERA) to take on the Rays in the opener. Duffy’s most recent action was a 3-2 win over the Angels. In the win, he went six innings, allowing eight hits and one run while striking out six.

By The Numbers

Offensively, Kansas City has been the stronger of the two teams thus far. The Royals rank 10th in scoring, averaging 4.62 runs per game. The Rays rank 17th, averaging 4.27 runs.

The Royals also hold a slight edge defensively. They rank 18th in runs allowed per game at 4.54. Tampa Bay is 26th, allowing 5.27 runs.

Rays Look To Reclaim Glory Of Last Season

After winning the American League last season, the Rays are trying to get back to the postseason and finish what they started by winning the World Series. After a weekend where they swept the Yankees, there is a lot of optimism among Rays fans that it could happen.

Leading the way for Tampa Bay offensively this season has been infielder Wendle. He is hitting .340/.365/.600 and leads the team with three home runs (tied with Austin Meadows) and 11 runs batted in.

Last season’s postseason hero, Randy Arozarena, has gotten off to a bit of a sluggish start. He has hit two home runs but is hitting just .246/.317/.386.

Austin Meadows (.193 average), Brandon Lowe (.176 average) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (.163 average) are also hoping to get their seasons turned around after slow starts.

Kansas City Out To Shock Division

Even with their strong start to the season, there isn’t a whole lot of optimism that the Royals can win the AL Central. They are currently +2000 to win it, with only the Tigers (+5000) having worse odds. Still, the Royals are trying to prove they are for real and will continue to try to do so on Monday.

Whit Merrifield has been on an absolute tear to start the season. The veteran second baseman is hitting .321/.371/.547 with three home runs, 11 runs batted in and five stolen bases thus far.

He isn’t the only veteran producing. Catcher Salvador Perez has gotten off to a sizzling start with a .291/.339/.618 line with five home runs and 11 runs batted in.

Taking Royals To Win

On paper, it is easy to argue why the Royals won’t be major contenders this season. Kansas City fans are glad that games aren’t played on paper, though.

This Royals team has been turning some heads in the early going and, against a mediocre Rays team thus far, it could mean chalking up another win.

Even with a couple of good starts, there are still some trust issues with Duffy and how consistent he will be from start to start, but until he falters, it is hard to bet against him. Take the Royals at -112 playing at home, where they are currently 7-3.

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