The Boston Red Sox (2-3) go for the sweep of the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay Rays (2-3) in a mid-week matinee at Fenway Park. In the first game of this season, Boston bludgeoned Tampa Bay with an outpouring of offense. In Game 2, the Rays suffered an all-too-familiar bullpen collapse and a couple of right field blunders to get edged out in 12 innings. The Rays have not lost four games in a row since last August, in the second week of the season.
Free Picks: Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays
Eovaldi hopes to exorcise demons vs. Tampa Bay
You might remember Nathan Eovaldi as one of the heroes of the Boston Red Sox’s 2018 World Series title run. In particular, Eovaldi’s six innings of relief in the marathon Game 3, when he was stilling hurling high-90s heaters into the wee hours of the Los Angeles night.
He seemed unhittable that night, and for the most part he was, which is why the Red Sox inked him to a four-year, $68 million contract the ensuing offseason. He’s been serviceable since then, but one team that consistently gives him trouble is the Tampa Bay Rays.
Eovaldi is 2-5 with a 5.48 ERA lifetime against the Rays. In the past three seasons, that ERA worsens 7.32 over six appearances. Despite that, the Red Sox find themselves as -120 favorites (888sport) on the latest MLB odds, while the Rays are listed as +100 underdogs (888sport).
Looking at Boston as a whole, this is a team that opened the season by suffering a shocking sweep at the hands of the lowly Baltimore Orioles — a team that received a 0% chance to make the playoffs in Fangraphs’ preseason projections. They were favored in all three of those games, but they failed to muster much offense in any of them.
That changed for the opener of this series, when Boston exploded in an 11-2 win over the Rays as slight favorites. The Red Sox more than doubled their run total from the entire Baltimore series (five runs) and had more hits in one game against Tampa Bay than in their three previous games (16-15).
On Tuesday night, Tampa Bay’s bullpen cost the Rays for the umpteenth time, allowing five runs (albeit two unearned, due to the extra-runner rule in extra innings) in the final five innings. Tampa Bay has by far the worst bullpen ERA in baseball (11.48 ERA) after ranking in the top three in the two previous seasons.
We really like the Rays to find a way to right the ship in this series finale. Considering they were only three outs away from a win on Tuesday, before closer Diego Castillo allowed a game-tying home run, we know Tampa Bay is capable of snapping this cold streak. The bullpen’s strong reputation far exceeds its shortcomings so far in 2021, which is why we’re taking the underdog Rays in our BetPicks prediction.
- Tampa Bay is 4-6 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in seven of the Rays’ past 10 games
- Boston is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in eight of the Red Sox’s past 10 games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).