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August 2, 2015 (Posted at 12:00 PM ET)

Take Tampa Rays as underdogs (+100) on the Money Line against Boston Red Sox risking 3% of bankroll.
(Odorizzi and Miley must start for wager to have action)

After losing the first two games of this series, the Tamp Bay Rays find themselves in nearly a must win situation this afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox currently occupy the basement in the competitive AL East and with Tampa Bay still in the running for one of the two AL Wild Card spots; a series sweep from the Red sox would severely damage their chances in the race. We expect them to come out in this finale game of the series and play with a sense of determination and urgency to come away with the much needed victory. 

As mentioned, the Red Sox are currently in last place in their division. Their season is all but over and even a late surge would not be enough for this team to make the playoffs. They are at a point in the season right now where they are preparing for the future and we have already seen that with younger players such as Blake Swihart, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr making more and more appearances in the lineup. Boston is currently evaluating their talent and looking to plan ahead for next season; they are experimenting to see what works and while they certainly would like to win games, we don't believe that's where their main focus lies at the moment and that makes them unpredictable. 

Tampa is not in a position to take any team lightly and their sole motivation is to stay in contention for a possible playoff position. Unlike their opponents, they are not assessing their talent, they are not experimenting, they have one goal in mind and that is to come away with the victory in this game and avoid being swept. Their goal for this matchup lines up with ours and in the world of sports betting, that is an ideal angle. 

The Rays should also hold numerous advantages in this contest, from their starting pitching, to their bullpen, to their much better defense. Jake Odorizzi was acquired by Tampa in the James Shields / Will Myers deal and was overlooked as just another piece of the trade. He has matured on the mound and has certainly come into his own, clearly solidifying himself as a top of the rotation pitcher in the American League. The right-hander has allowed two runs or less in six of his last eight starts and has earned a very respectable 2.76ERA on the season. For the Red Sox, they will counter with lefty Wade Miley as he takes the mound this afternoon. Miley comes in with an 8-9 record to go along with a 4.65 ERA on the season. He was also rouged up in his last start giving up 7 runs to the White Sox at home on Tuesday. 

Odorizzi is simply the better pitcher in this game. The Rays’ right-hander has stifled batters to a .222 batting averaging this season and has been a solid option for manager Brian Cash while he has been healthy enough to pitch. He's also held Boston to just a .197 batting average while walking on 2 batters in the 61 previous at bats against him. Even if he is not pitching as sharply this afternoon, he should at least do enough to out-pitch the struggling Miley and put his team in a position to get the win. 

A lot of criticism has been placed on the Rays offense this season and for good reasons. Tampa is a team who has shown inconsistencies at the plate; however they have been solid against left handed pitchers this season. When their offense has had those breakout performances this season, they have often come against southpaws and given the struggles that Miley has been going through recently, this could be one of those performances where the Rays offense explode, completely lighting up Miley. 

There is certainly no love lost between these division rivals and they typically play closely contested games. We expect nothing different today. We do however feel that the wrong team in favored in this situation. The Red Sox have had success in the first two games of this series; however we feel that the odds are against them in this one. It's incredibly hard for a team, especially one as inconsistent as the Red Sox to defeat a team 3 straight games in a row. The Red Sox have not had a winning streak longer than 4 games this entire season and a win today will tie their longest of the season. We don't feel that Brian Cash's team will allow that to happen. The Rays have been a much better team on the road than they have been at Tropicana Field this season and their pitching staff has given up 109 less than the Red Sox. This one will likely be close, but the Rays should edge it in the end. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Rays are 12-3 in their last 15 games vs. left-handed starters! 
  • Red Sox are 1-4 in Miley’s last 5 starts during game 3 of a series. 
  • Tampa pitching has allowed 109 less runs than Boston.
  • Red Sox are 1-6 in Miley’s last 7 starts vs. American League East.

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