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June 29, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Take Tampa Bay Rays (-124) on the Money Line against Cleveland Indians risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Karns and Anderson must start for wager to have action)

The Rays have a chance for revenge tonight when they take on Cody Anderson and the Indians at Tropicana Field. Anderson just made his Major League debut back on 6/21 and did so in spectacular fashion at the expense of Tampa. He managed to shut out the Rays in that contest despite giving up 6 hits. His performance was only the fourth time an Indians’ pitcher logged that many scoreless innings in his debut dating back to 1914! It was an impressive outing but with this Rays lineup having now had a few at-bats under their belt against him, he won't catch them by surprise anymore and we expect them to have a better showing. We feel that it's also worth mentioning that Anderson isn't coming into this start on a normal 5 day rest. His last start was 8 days ago and while many will look at the extra time as being a benefit; for a pitcher it is not. They are accustomed and have trained their bodies to be ready every 5th or 6th day to pitch. When a starter goes too early or too late, it throws off their routine and rhythm which has negative effects on their performance. We don't expect Anderson to be lights out in this contest as he was in his debut. 

Let's not forget that this is a Cleveland team that comes into this contest after a very disappointing double-header yesterday against the Baltimore Orioles. The Tribe was blanked on the scoreboard 4-0 in Game 1 and beaten up even worse in the second game as they lost by a score of 8-0! That had to be two very demoralizing losses for a team who was already almost out of the running for a playoff spot this season. Cleveland is currently 12 games behind the division leading Royals and yesterday's losses may well have evaporated their playoff aspirations. After all they're quite a way behind in the Wild Card chase as well and even have division rivals Twins and Tigers way ahead of them. Not only are they tired and dejected after those two demoralizing losses, they immediately had to take a flight to Tampa to play another game. We don't expect the Tribe to be in peak condition mentally or physically.  

The top four teams in the AL East are separated by just two games and the Tampa Bay Rays had been hanging on to a slim division lead for the better part of the last two weeks. They currently find themselves in 2nd place behind the Orioles due to percentage points. There is no doubt that they want to win this game and regain the top spot. This season the Rays have gotten the job done with their pitching, to go along with some timely hits but the real star of this team has been their play on defense. The Rays have been a team that has played fundamentally sound baseball. They are not typically a club that beats itself and boasts one of the best fielding defenses in the American League committing only 36 errors on the season to go along with 682 assists leading to a team fielding percentage of .987 on the year. They have the ability to get quality starts out of their pitching and will expect that when Nathan Karns takes the mound tonight.  Karns had a quality start last time out and went six scoreless innings against the high-scoring Blue Jays in his last start. The right-hander has also posted an impressive 1.04 ERA in 17 innings over his last three outings which includes going 5 and a third in a 4-1 win at Cleveland on June 19th.

The battle between these two clubs may come down to the bullpens. If that is the case, we believe the Rays also hold the advantage in that area. Tampa didn't have to use their best arms yesterday as relievers McGee and Boxberger got the day off and should be available to be called upon if needed tonight. Meanwhile, because the Indians played in a double-header yesterday, there isn't a fresh arm in their bullpen especially since their rookie starter lasted just 3 innings in yesterday's second game! They will likely need Anderson to have a quality start in order to take the focus off what could be a fatigued pen. 

Cleveland's Michael Brantley is hitting just .202 in 32 career games against the Rays, his lowest versus any opponent with at least 10 meetings while Tampa's Evan Longoria is 9 for 24 during a six-game hitting streak overall and should have success against Anderson tonight. The Indians have been struggling with runners in scoring position for a couple of months now with Jason Kipnis being the only consistent hitter. Their offense has gone cold and that's led to major frustration. These are two teams that are on opposite ends of the spectrum at the moment and with such a short turnaround after a rough day, this is a cheap price to lay with the better and more confident team.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Cleveland is 2-5 in their last seven games. 
  • Tampa Bay is 6-1 in their last 7 games against AL Central clubs. 
  • Cleveland is 1-4 in their last 5 games against AL East clubs.
  • Cleveland has won just 7 of its last 22 visits to Tropicana Field.

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