The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are losing ground fast in the AL East, so especially in the shortened 60-game MLB season, both clubs are facing must-win situations on Wednesday.
Tampa snapped a five-game losing streak with Tuesday's 5-1 victory, as the Sox dropped their fourth straight coming off a sweep at the hands of the Yankees, who have MLB's best record entering the day at 8-1.
For more on this pivotal matchup between two team rife with playoff-caliber talent, continue reading abe Insights' betting preview for the best odds, wagers analysis and key stats to consider.
Date: Wednesday, August 5
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET
TV: NESN; Fox Sports Sun
Implied Probabilities: Red Sox 42%; Rays 59%
Spread: BOS +1.5 (-145); TB -1.5 (+135)
Moneyline: BOS +138; TB -143
Rays outfielder Austin Meadows made his season debut on Tuesday, batting in the leadoff spot for Tampa Bay and sparking an offense that had been largely dormant all year. His RBI triple added an insurance run in the fifth, and he also had a single.
Lefty Martin Perez takes the mound for Boston against the revitalized Rays batting order. Perez won his last start against the Mets, going 5.2 innings with two hits and two runs allowed. He'll face Ryan Yarbrough, who has a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched.
.340 vs .310: Boston was third in all of baseball last season in on-base percentage, but has dropped by 30 points in that category thus far, good for 20th in MLB. In fact, the Rays are just behind the Red Sox here (.306).
.316 vs. 315: Sox and Rays pitchers are yielding the second- and third-highest batting averages on balls in play respectively. So despite the low frequency of overall OBP, these numbers suggest there are going to be scoring opportunities to be had when the two teams meet.
7.7 vs. 5.6: Rather at odds with the last stat duel, these are the Wins Above Replacement numbers for each team's relief pitchers this year. Tampa Bay leads MLB in this area, while Boston is solid in its own right, ranking in the top five.
Both starting pitchers are in good form, and the stable of relievers is strong for each of these divisional adversaries. This contest is bound to come down to clutch, timely hitting and which lineup finds a groove at the plate against a variety of exceptional throwers.
If the initial meeting between these clubs is any indication, the Red Sox are in trouble. They had the bases loaded in the final inning Tuesday, but both of their hitters bore witness to called third strikes. Although Rays reliever Nick Anderson deserves credit for slamming the door, that's a fitting summary of Boston's past season-plus.
It's hard to reconcile how the Red Sox have so many good players, yet do so little with seemingly so much. They fell way short of expectations in 2019 by winning only 84 games. Now, with a 3-8 record, even with an expanded playoff field to 16 teams, they're in danger of missing out on the chase for the World Series.
Tampa Bay is accustomed to being shorthanded, whether it be in payroll, talent or both. The organization doesn't have the resources of someone like Boston or the Yankees. Nevertheless, the 5-6 Rays find ways to stay competitive, and despite a rocky stretch, they seem better built to sustain consistency out of a slump than the Sox at this point.
TeamRankings.com shows Boston at 7-3-1 to hit the Under, with Tampa Bay at an even .500 record. The odds seem to favor the Under here based on the limited 2020 sample, and that's where wagers are bound to gravitate toward. However, prop bets on the Over for the first five innings seem more sensible given the strength of these bullpens.
Either side of the run line is a decent bargain, so when in doubt, why not take the superior payout with the Rays' spread? There's not enough difference in the moneyline margin to endorse one or the other, but expect the Red Sox market share to be greater due to the franchise's popularity and slightly better odds.
Note: Odds current as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 5.
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