After losing an interleague series to the Reds, the Boston Red Sox will remain at Fenway to play host to the first-place team in their division, the Tampa Bay Rays. We’ll preview the first game of this series before going over which side I’ll be backing.
Boston isn’t the only team in this matchup that is coming off an interleague series loss, as the Rays dropped two out of three games to the Cubs. Tampa Bay avoided the sweep on Wednesday with a narrow 4-3 victory, but the series was the first full series where their offense did not look like a juggernaut. In the three games, the Rays scored five total runs, with four coming Wednesday in the 7th and 8th inning to complete a much-needed comeback.
Tampa Bay will send Tyler Glasnow to the hill tonight for his second start since returning from injury. The hard-throwing righty went 4 ⅓ in his first start against the Dodgers, as he struck out eight while allowing three earned runs on five hits. Of the two starts Glasnow made last season at the end of the year, one came against the Red Sox, in which he threw 3 ⅔ innings with seven punch outs and two hits allowed.
Tonight Glasnow will take on a Red Sox lineup that also avoided getting swept last night. Boston was held at bay for most of the game last night until they came alive in the 8th inning with a six-run outburst. The rally started with a Rafael Devers RBI double that gave Boston a 3-2 lead, and it ended with a Connor Wong two-run homerun which made it 8-2.
With their losing streak now over, Boston will hand the ball to Garrett Whitlock tonight in the hopes of starting a winning streak. In four starts and 21 innings, the right-hander has pitched to a 5.14 ERA with 15 strikeouts and three walks. Whitlock secured his second win of the year his last time out, throwing five innings with four strikeouts and one earned run allowed.
The Rays are listed as (-130) road favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Tampa Bay holds an edge in the starting pitching department in this one, and even with their series loss, they are still 6-4 over their last ten games, while Boston is 3-7 in that span. The Rays are also 10-1 in their last 11 games following an off day, while Boston is 2-5 in their last seven games ones of series.
Tampa Bay is 7th in wRC+, 8th in wOBA, and 8th in OPS against right-handed pitching on the road over the last month. They’ll face a starter in Garrett Whitlock tonight, who is in the 17th percentile in barrel percentage, 22nd percentile in expected batting average, and 21st percentile in expected slugging percentage. In his first start of the year, the righty faced Tampa Bay and allowed five earned runs on eight hits, three of which were home runs.
In Tyler Glasnow’s last six starts against the Red Sox, he has recorded at least seven strikeouts. Boston was 14th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching over the last month and has been as inconsistent as they come. Ultimately, I think the Rays can build a lead off Whitlock while Glasnow keeps them off the board.
Tampa Bay Rays (-130)