The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping they can maintain and build upon their lead in the AL East when they begin a weekend series with the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. The Rays are road favorites in Friday’s series opener with a moneyline of -170. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s moneyline is set at +145.
Thanks to the Boston Red Sox‘s recent struggles, the Rays head into the weekend with a five-game cushion in the AL East. Of course, the Rays get a little credit for that after beating the Red Sox in two of three games earlier this week. Tampa has now won six of seven games and will now play seven straight games against teams with a losing record.
Obviously, Minnesota is included in those teams with a losing record, as the Twins are 15 games under .500. This season hasn’t gone as expected, but the Twins have started to turn into a giant killer in August. They’ve played their last nine games against teams in the playoff race, going 6-3.
Michael Likes It
After Michael Pineda wasn’t traded at the deadline, he’s available to start for the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Despite missing some time due to injury, Pineda has put together a nice season, going 4-7 with a 3.83 ERA over 16 starts. He struggled in his first start back from the IL in July but has allowed two runs or less in each of his four starts since then.
Alas, Pineda will be tested by a Tampa lineup that has scored at least eight runs in six straight games. Against both the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays have spent the last week raking with Brandon Lowe and Brett Phillips, both contributing three homers and 10 RBIs apiece. Manuel Margot, Joey Wendle, and Mike Zunino are also among the Tampa hitters who have heated up over the last week.
Shane Has Game
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays will send lefty Shane McClanahan to the mound. The 24-year-old has been a great addition to the Tampa rotation in his rookie season, pitching to a 3.75 ERA over 17 starts. There is also no sign of the youngster slowing down, as McClanahan has allowed just one run in three of his last five starts, with the Rays going 4-1 in those games.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota lineup was stifled by the White Sox this past week, managing just six runs in three games despite winning two of those games. Keep in mind the Twins traded Nelson Cruz to the Rays in July, taking away arguably the most important member of the Minnesota lineup. While Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano are still power sources, Polanco and Luis Arraez have become Minnesota’s only consistent contributors.
This is Going to Sting
Given their recent success against good teams, the Twins aren’t a bad underdog pick in this game. However, with the way Tampa’s offense has been producing lately, there’s no way the Twins can keep up if Pineda can’t shut down the Rays.
With Tampa also capable of pitching a good game and winning a low-scoring game, bet on the Rays to win on Friday.
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