Immediately hopping on a late-night flight following Sunday Night Baseball is not ideal, but doing so after sweeping your rival at home has to make it a little better. That was the case for the Boston Red Sox, who completed their sweep of the Yankees by winning both games of a doubleheader yesterday and then proceeded to head to Minnesota for a series with the Twins. We’ll preview the first game before going over why I’ll be targeting a play on the total.
While Boston was beating up on the Yankees, the Twins were losing a series to the Tigers. Minnesota dropped three out of four games against Detroit, with their offense failing to come to play during the weekend. In yesterday’s 6-4 loss, the Twins registered seven hits but struck out 14 times, leaving 15 runners on base. Royce Lewis, Willi Castro, and Christian Vazquez were the only Twins players who drove in runs.
Not only did the Twins' offense not show up, but their pitching staff allowed six or more runs in three of the games in the series. As they look for a strong start and some positive momentum, Minnesota will send righty Pablo López to the mound for his 15th start. In 84.3 innings, López has pitched to a 4.27 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 23 walks.
The Twins starter will take on a Red Sox lineup that peppered the Green Monster all weekend to outscore the Yankees 25-8 over the three-game series. In yesterday’s 6-2 and 4-1 victories, the Red Sox picked up 19 hits, with seven going for extra bases. Following his big game on Friday, Justin Turner drove in one of the runs in the first game, while Tristan Casas came up with two of the RBIs last night.
Boston will have lefty James Paxton on the mound after their much-needed series win. The veteran has made five starts this season, and in 26 innings, he has put up a 3.81 ERA with 36 strikeouts and nine walks. Paxton took a no-decision in his most recent outing, but he did look sharp, as he allowed one unearned run and struck out eight in six innings of work.
The total for this game is currently at 8, and I’ll be taking the under for my play. Not only is Boston playing in a tough traveling situation, but the under is 7-3 in their last ten games, and they have a challenging matchup with Pablo López. On the other side, the Twins' offense was nonexistent this past weekend, and they face a less-than-ideal challenge for them with a lefty on the mound.
Over the past month, Minnesota ranks 29th in OPS, 28th in wOBA, and 28th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching when playing at home. The Twins had 17 strikeouts in 12 innings against lefty starters this past weekend and managed just two hits on Saturday against Joey Wentz. Tonight they’ll face James Paxton, who is in the 82nd percentile in expected batting average, 94th percentile in strikeout percentage, and 75th percentile in xERA/xwOBA.
Boston’s offense is 27th in wOBA, OPS, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month. They’ll face Pablo López, who has a 4.27 ERA but a 3.18 expected ERA and is in the 80th percentile in expected batting average and 71st percentile in expected slugging. With a 29.3% strikeout percentage at home, I think López is a bad matchup for Boston in this spot.