After the series began with a lopsided 14-5 game, the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves will play the second game of their four-game series Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. The Rays are a slight favorite at home with a money line of -126, while Atlanta’s money line is +116.
Monday’s win pushed the Rays to 3-1 on the season, putting them atop the AL East standings. Miraculously, Tampa Bay is the first team this season to put together a three-game winning streak. They will undoubtedly want to keep that going as long as possible to keep the pressure on the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Braves lost out on their chance to win three straight games. Monday’s loss was so disappointing for Atlanta that the team designated longtime starter Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after he got rocked by Tampa’s lineup. The loss dropped the Braves to 2-2, putting them half a game behind the idle Marlins at the top of the NL East.
The Wright Stuff
Young Kyle Wright will take the mound for Atlanta on Tuesday night. The 24-year-old is winless in four starts and seven relief appearances in his big league career and owns a 7.71 ERA.
With just 25.2 innings in the big leagues, Wright maintains rookie eligibility. The Braves are now looking for him to become an essential part of their rotation after giving up on Foltynewicz.
Of course, Wright will be facing a Tampa Bay lineup that is beaming with confidence after scoring 14 runs on Monday. Four different Rays hit home runs after hitting just three long balls during the first series of the season. The Rays are a little short-handed these days with Austin Meadows missing in action.
However, Hunter Renfroe and Jose Martinez are legitimate power threats. Second baseman Brandon Lowe has also been the biggest surprise of the season for Tampa, going 7 for 14 with three doubles and two triples through four games.
Yonny Chirinos will get the start for the Rays on Tuesday. The righty often starts for Tampa Bay but also spent some time pitching out of the bullpen last season when the team uses an opener.
Either way, he was 9-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 2019, making the Rays confident that he can be a full-time starter in 2020 and a reliable option in the back-end of the rotation.
Thus far, Atlanta’s offense has been hot and cold. They scored just one run in their first 17 innings of the season but have heated up ever since. That includes a 14-run performance on Sunday against the Mets. Oddly enough, Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies have been slowed at the top of the order.
However, Marcell Ozuna and Dansby Swanson have been big early in the year. Both have two home runs in four games with Swanson batting .400 and driving in seven runs over four games.
Roll with the Rays
As two of the better teams in the majors, the money line doesn’t offer much of a difference in this matchup. However, the Rays have a clear pitching advantage, with Wright being unproven and Chirinos being a reliable starter. Plus, Tampa’s lineup is red hot after Monday’s game, while Atlanta’s lineup can be tamed until Acuna and Albies get going.
It’s a tough call, but take a chance on the Rays winning on Tuesday.
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