The Tampa Bay Rays (7-7, 4-4 home) battle the Boston Red Sox (7-7, 4-3 away) in game two of a three-game American League East showdown. Boston won the series opener, 4-3, on Friday evening.
First pitch of Saturday’s contest is at 6:10 p.m. EST inside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Tampa Bay is favored on the moneyline (-120), and the over-under run total is eight.
What to Know – Boston Red Sox
Boston ended their two-game losing skid with Friday’s victory and pushed its record back to even. The Red Sox are tied with the Rays in the AL East standings, trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by two games.
The Red Sox had the ball to right-hander Garrett Whitlock (1-0, 0.93 ERA, 0.62 WHIP). Whitlock makes his first start of the season on the mound. The 25-year-old has been solid in relief appearances, hurling 9.2 innings and allowing one earned run with 11 strikeouts.
On offense, Boston ranks 12th in the majors with a .239 team batting average. The Red Sox average 3.9 runs per game. Boston’s pitching staff has a 3.82 team earned run average, which sits 20th amongst the major league teams.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is 8-for-12 at the plate over his last three games, including a three-hit effort in Friday’s victory. Bogaerts has a .385 batting average through the first two weeks of the season, ranking eighth in the majors. Outfielder Alex Verdugo has the team lead in home runs (3) and runs batted in (10).
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays dropped the opener to the Red Sox but took two of three on the road from the Chicago Cubs earlier in the week. Tampa Bay aims to rise up the AL East standings with its next eight games at home.
J.P. Feyereisen (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP) gets the nod for the second time this season for the Rays. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run over five appearances and 5.1 innings of work. Expect the 29-year-old to be treated as an opener, tossing one to two innings before turning the ball over to the Rays bullpen.
Tampa Bay’s offense is eighth in the MLB and third in the AL with .251 team batting average. The Rays score 4.5 runs per game. Tampa Bay’s 3.75 team ERA is just ahead of the Red Sox, ranking 19th in the league.
Former top prospect Wander Franco is living up to his billing this year. The talented 21-year-old shortstop is ripping the cover off the baseball with a .393 batting average, three home runs, and ten RBI. Franco’s picked up a hit in his last six games.
The Pick is In
Saturday’s contest is shaping up to be a bullpen game for both teams. Tampa’s offensive lineup has been the better of the two to begin the season, and they’ll have the upper edge in Saturday’s tilt. Tampa Bay evens the series with a close victory in game two of the 3-game set.
Betting Pick: Tampa Bay Rays ML