Moneyline: Red Sox (-174) Rays (+164)
Starting Pitchers- Rays (Price) vs. Red Sox (Lester)
These have typically been two of the best teams in the American League East in the last few years, but both Tampa Bay and Boston have gotten off to a miserable start in 2011. The Red Sox did win two out of three against New York over the weekend, but that 0-6 start is weighing them down. The Rays have had a horrible time scoring runs, and they certainly aren’t the same team they were last year. It was the Rays who struck first with a huge 16-5 win in the series opener last night.
Tampa Bay managed to put up only one run in six of their first nine games. It’s amazing how quickly this team turned from being one of the better offenses in the American League to the worst in the league so far this year. Last night in Boston the team finally showed up with a strong offensive output. It certainly doesn’t help that Evan Longoria is out with an oblique strain, but this team appears to have some serious holes in their lineup. Dan Johnson is hitting under .100 right now at first base, and Sean Rodriguez is struggling mightily at the other corner infield spot. There is a real lack of power for the Rays without Longoria. Carl Crawford was the catalyst at the top of the Rays lineup, and without him it appears they will struggle to score. The Rays still have a pretty good pitching staff. David Price is their ace, and they’ll be counting on him to keep them in this game.
Boston was the favorite to win the American League coming into this year, so it definitely surprised everyone when they dropped their first six games of the year. A three game sweep at the hands of the Indians was particularly embarrassing for the Red Sox. They were able to beat the Yankees in two out of three games, but last night’s ugly showing against Tampa Bay has the heat right back on this team. Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury were expected to be three of the most consistent hitters in this lineup, but they have all struggled mightily this year. I don’t expect that to continue for the entire season. The bigger question for the Red Sox will likely be whether their pitching can step up. The bullpen has beat around this year, and that is a problem that needs to get fixed soon if they expect to win in the tough American League East.
With two strong left-handers like Lester and Price going, I expect runs to be tough to come by in this one. I like the under here.
MLB Free Pick: Under 8
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