MLB: Tampa Bay not a good bet
As September begins, the defending American League champions are backed into a corner. The Rays earned a road split with Detroit yesterday with 11-7 win, yet still trail Boston by five games for the wild card, with Texas a game ahead of them. This is not
As September begins, the defending American League champions are backed into a corner. The Rays earned a road split with Detroit yesterday with 11-7 win, yet still trail Boston by five games for the wild card, with Texas a game ahead of them. This is not to say Tampa Bay isn't capable of making a run over their next 32 games, since they still have six important encounters with the Red Sox over the next 13 days. If it were only that easy. In Tuesday's series opener, it is the Red Sox that are heavy -155 favorites. Players at Sportsbook are about evenly split on their loyalties. Check the BETTING TRENDS page for the latest breakdown.
This is crunch time and Rays know it, opening up a three-game series with the Red Sox. "I don't know if it gets any bigger," Evan Longoria said of the upcoming series. "…. It should be fun." Even when Tampa Bay was the American League doormat they gave Boston trouble and it has continued into this season. The Rays have won eight of 12 against Boston and are 18-10 at Tropicana Field versus the BoSox.
Many wondered how the Tampa Bay front office could have moved the team's all-time wins leader is Scott Kazmir, while still in the thick of chasing post-season berth. Tampa Bay has had an unusual situation and has tricky economic picture to consider.
After years of being one of the sickest and poorly run franchises in baseball, Tampa Rays invested in farm system. They have assembled some of the best young talent in the game; unfortunately, baseball isn't just played on the field.
Last year's World Series run has not led to a huge bump in attendance, ranking 22nd at 24,168 per game, which is behind Baltimore, San Diego and Arizona, whose seasons were over long ago. In fact they draw 4,000 more per game on the road than at home. The Rays lack a substantial season ticket base, strong corporate presence and potential for substantial ballpark revenues. The end result is Tampa Bay has to win to try and draw while always keeping an eye on the money matters.
With Kazmir gone, Andy Sonnanstine (6-7, 6.61 ERA) has been recalled from Triple-A. The right-hander gets the call since he is 2-0 with 0.96 ERA in last three starts against Boston. Sportsbook.com oddsmakers are not impressed with Sonnanstine or the fact the Rays are 57-23 at home playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons. They have made the Red Sox -155 money line road favorites, with the total Un9.
Jon Lester (10-7, 3.60) will be charge of stopping Joe Maddon's club. The Red Sox are 14-3 in road games vs. an AL starting pitcher like Sonnanstine, whose WHIP is 1.500 to 1.600 and is 12-2 with a day off. The rub is Lester is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in three starts in 2009 vs. the former Devil Rays, with Boston losing all of them. While it is true the Red Sox are 11-0 after seven or more consecutive home games this season, you can't overlook the fact they are 1-11 when playing against a team with a win percentage between 54 to 62 percent in the second half of this year.
Longoria and teammates are 15-3 UNDER as a home underdog of +100 or higher over the last two seasons, while Boston is 14-3 UNDER in road games vs. good power teams, averaging 1.25 or more home runs a game in the second half of the season.
While manager Terry Francona laments about trip to -The Trop-, "Those cowbells stay with you for about a week." at least his club is still in better position and doesn't have the Rays upcoming schedule.
Tampa Bay plays host to Boston and division leading Detroit this week before heading on the road next for trips the Yankees and Boston.
First pitch tonight is set for 7:08 Eastern on NESN and Sun networks.
StatFox Power Line Boston -154
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