The Tampa Bay Rays will be seeking a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox when the two wrap up their series Thursday night. However, despite losing the first two games of the series, the Red Sox are -120 favorites to win on Thursday.
Dropping the first two games of the series completely ruined Boston’s momentum after they won three of four against the Yankees last weekend. That series also followed winning two of three from the Rays in Tampa. The Sox are back to 10 games behind the Yankees and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race. In other words, they can’t afford to get swept at home.
Meanwhile, the Rays have now won five of their last six, helping to put a brief four-game losing streak earlier this month behind them. Tampa Bay is back in control of the second Wild Card spot in the American League. However, they lead the A’s by just half a game and Boston by 2.5 games, so there is plenty of pressure on them to keep winning.
On You, Rookie
With their top starters on the IL, the Rays will turn to rookie Brendan McKay on Thursday. The southpaw has made four starts in the majors this year, but with mixed results. He looked outstanding in his first few starts. However, he allowed five earned runs on nine hits against the White Sox in his last outing. It was just one bad start, but the Rays need him to bounce back quickly.
Needless to say, Boston’s lineup is no joke. The Red Sox have three regulars with an OPS over .900 this season. Also, despite three straight losses, Boston’s lineup has been crushing the ball lately. J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Mookie Betts all have three home runs apiece in their last six games. The Red Sox are averaging nine runs per game during that stretch and have scored at least five runs in each game, so the offense hasn’t been Boston’s problem lately.
The Red Sox will turn to new addition Andrew Cashner to help snap their losing streak. He was having a great season in Baltimore but is 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in three starts with the Red Sox. Cashner is a good bet to eat up some innings, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to keep the Rays off the scoreboard. However, he did hold Tampa Bay to two runs over five innings when he faced them in April.
Perhaps more importantly, the Rays have handled Boston’s pitching in this series and have a number of hitters who have gotten hot over the past week. Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, and Travis d’Arnaud are all crushing it lately. Rookie Nick Lowe has also joined the party, giving Tampa Bay’s lineup a surprising amount of depth, especially from the left side, an area where Cashner has struggled this year.
Bust Out the Brooms
Boston’s desperation could be enough to win this game, especially at home. But the Red Sox have not performed well on the mound in this series, and Cashner may not change that. Even if McKay struggles again, Tampa Bay’s bullpen is deep enough to help him out. Bet on the Rays beating the Red Sox on Thursday.
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