The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays will finish up a four-game series on Thursday night. It's time to continue our MLB odds series and make a Red Sox-Rays prediction and pick.
This is a crucial series for determining the outcome of the AL East, and the Rays have taken command of it. Tampa Bay is looking to win its third game of the series Thursday, which would essentially knock Boston out of the running in the division.
The Red Sox desperately need a win here in order to keep up their hopes for the division crown and their Wild Card seeding. Boston is only two games ahead of the Oakland Athletics in the race for the last Wild Card spot, so as strange as it may seem, there's a chance the Red Sox miss the postseason. This should be a great game, so let's get into the pick.
Here's how the bookmakers have set the odds for Thursday's game.
MLB Odds: Red Sox-Rays Odds
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Boston Red Sox ML (+140)
Tampa Bay Rays ML (-152)
Over 7 1/2 runs (-110)
Under 7 1/2 runs (-110)
Why The Red Sox Could Cover The Spread
Boston's pitching rotation has exceeded expectations, but it has been the offense that has consistently kept this team in games. The Red Sox rank inside the top three in the league in batting average, OPS, and slugging percentage, while ranking eighth in OBP. Despite the recent losing stretch, this offense remains a handful for any opposing pitcher.
That opposing pitcher will be Rays starter Shane McClanahan. McClanahan has been good this season, but there are a couple of factors leaning in Boston's favor in this matchup. The Red Sox are slightly better offensively when they face left-handed pitching, shown by their improved batting stats across the board. McClanahan is actually slightly worse when he pitches at home, as his opponent's batting average rises along with his WHIP. Boston should be able to do some damage against McClanahan in the early innings.
Why The Rays Could Cover The Spread
The Rays have a much softer pitching matchup than the Red Sox do. Boston will entrust Thursday's start to Eduardo Rodriguez, something the Tampa Bay hitters should be very excited about.
Over the course of the season, Rodriguez has posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. Those are pretty poor numbers, and they shouldn't improve against a Rays offense that has been scorching-hot lately. Tampa Bay has scored more than four runs in seven of the last 10 games. They also have six hitters in their lineup hitting .250 or higher against Rodriguez throughout their careers. The Rays shouldn't have any trouble keeping pace with Boston's offense in this one.
McClanahan may have some numbers going against him in this matchup, but his level of pitching is enough to inspire confidence against any opponent. Over his last seven starts, the lefty has earned a 2.90 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. McClanahan has also faced Boston once this season, pitching six innings of one-run baseball. A repeat performance is not out of the question.
Final Red Sox-Rays Prediction & Pick
The Rays should win this game, but they aren't the best pick on the board. The over should cash easily, as there's a good chance that Tampa Bay can crack it on their own. Take the over with confidence here.
FINAL PICK: Over 7 1/2 runs (-110)