MLB Pick & Preview – Cincinnati Reds at Tampa Bay Rays
Cincinnati Reds -105
Tampa Bay Rays -115
Total – 7ov -125
The Cincinnati Reds and the Tampa Bay Rays kick-off a three-game series at Tropicana Field tonight with Game 1 of this interleague matchup. The first pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Cincinnati has just three wins in its last nine games and is coming off a 7-5 loss to Baltimore on Sunday as a slight 101 road underdog. The loss dropped the Reds to 40-39 on the year and four games in back of Milwaukee in the NL Central. They are 22-19 at home and 18-20 on the road.
The powerful Cincinnati lineup could be without one of its key run producers as Jay Bruce is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with an undisclosed illness. He is tied with Joey Votto for the team-lead in RBI with 49. Johnny Cueto will be on the mound tonight for the Reds. He has established himself as the staff ‘ace’ this season with a 5-2 record and 1.63 ERA in nine starts. He has been especially good in the month of June; giving up just three earned runs in four previous starts.
Tampa Bay’s 14-10 victory over Houston on Sunday as a 124 road favorite completed a three-game sweep of the Astros and was its eighth win in its last nine games. The Rays are now 44-34 overall and just two games in back of New York in the AL East. They are a MLB-best 26-16 on the road, but an even 18-18 at home.
The primary power center for Tampa this season has been the trio of Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton, and Matt Joyce. These three have combined for 119 RBI and 30 home runs so far this year. It is Jeremy Hellickson’s turn in the rotation for Tampa Bay. Last Tuesday he gave up two earned runs on three hits in six innings of work, but still got tagged with the loss to the Brewers. He is 7-6 overall this season with a 3.09 ERA but just 2-4 in his last six starts.
These two teams last met in 2005 with the Reds pulling off a three-game sweep at home. Do not expect a sweep this time around, but stick with Cueto and Cincinnati to strike first blood in this series with a win tonight.
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