Wednesday night will feature a battle of AL East playoff contenders as the Tampa Bay Rays (88-51) take on the Boston Red Sox (79-62). The Red Sox will host this one at Fenway Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
This will be the finale of a three-game series and one the Red Sox desperately need to win. The Rays won the first two games, including a 12-7 win on Tuesday.
In Tuesday’s win, the Rays exploded for five home runs, including two apiece from Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino. On the mound, Drew Rasmussen went five innings and allowed just a single run.
In the loss, Eduardo Rodriguez was lit up as he went just 3.2 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. Bobby Dalbec had two home runs, but the Red Sox just could not keep up with Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox are the slight favorites playing at home. They are -115 while the Rays’ moneyline sits at +105. The runline features Tampa Bay +1.5 (-195), and the over/under for total runs is 9.5.
The Rays will turn to lefty Shane McClanahan (9-5, 3.76 ERA) in the finale. In his last seven starts, he is 5-2 with a 3.57 ERA.
The Red Sox will counter with righty Nathan Eovaldi. On the season, Eovaldi is 10-8 with a 3.73 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and has struck out 163 in 156.2 innings.
By The Numbers
Tampa Bay comes in as the best offense in the majors in terms of scoring. They are averaging 5.39 runs per game (5.84 on the road). The Red Sox rank fourth, averaging 5.06 runs (5.77 at home).
Defensively, it is once again the Rays with the edge. They rank 11th overall in scoring defense, allowing opposing teams an average of 4.12 runs per game. The Red Sox rank 18th allowing 4.66 runs.
Trying To Keep Postseason Hopes Alive
The Rays are peaking at the right time. Coming into the game Wednesday, they have won 13 of their last 16 games, and they look like a dangerous team come the postseason.
Leading the way on offense for the Rays is second baseman, Brandon Lowe. On the season, he is hitting just .235/.336/.504, but he leads the team in home runs (33) and runs batted in (82).
Several players have had success against Nathan Eovaldi in their careers, but watch out for Austin Meadows and Joey Wendle. In 18 at-bats, Meadows is hitting .389 with a home run and three runs batted in. Not to be outdone, Wendle is hitting .429 with a home run in 14 at-bats.
Red Sox Fighting For Playoff Spot
At 79-61, the Red Sox would be in the playoffs as a wild card team if the season were to end today. With the Blue Jays and Mariners on their heels, though, Boston knows they need to start picking up wins.
Offensively, third baseman Rafael Devers continues to be their best hitter. He is currently hitting .276/350/.542 with a team-leading 33 home runs, 101 runs batted in, and 86 runs.
Over the last couple of weeks, it has been first baseman Bobby Dalbec that has been the Red Sox best hitter. In that span, he is hitting .361/.452/.778 with five home runs and 15 runs batted in. Devers and outfielder Kyle Schwarber have four home runs over that same span.
Take The Rays On The Runline
The Rays enter play Wednesday with the best record in the American League and second-best in all of baseball. With a substantial lead in the AL East, they hope to continue rolling as the postseason approaches.
This one really comes down to just how hot the Rays are. They have been one of the best teams in baseball overall, but they have been scorching hot as of late.
Playing so well, it is hard to believe they come in as the underdogs. Don’t be afraid to take them straight up, but at the very least, take Tampa Bay and the 1.5 runs.