MLB Picks 2012: New York Mets vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The New York Mets (34-29) and Tampa Bay Rays (35-27) will close out a three-game interleague series on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 ET

New York Mets at Tampa Bay Rays

New York Mets SP Johan Santana will make his second start since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history

New York will look to close out its nine-game road trip with a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, outscoring its current opponent by a 20-3 margin in the first two games.  The Mets have been getting incredible starting pitching over the previous 20 games, with the staff posting an 11-4 record and 2.43 ERA.  The club is 3-5 in interleague play this year, but will return to National League action over the weekend, hosting the Cincinnati Reds for three games.  New York is 3-4 as a road underdog of +100 to +125, with the “over” going 5-2 in those contests.

Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (3-3, 2.96 ERA) enters off a disappointing 9-1 road loss to the New York Yankees, giving up six runs and seven hits over five innings, as he was definitely feeling the effects of throwing a career-high in pitches in the previous outing.  The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in five road starts, surrendering six home runs in 24.2 combined innings.  In 12 career games (eight starts) versus the Rays, Santana has tallied a 3-3 record and 2.75 ERA, including a 2-0 mark and 1.85 ERA in four outings (two starts) at this venue.

Tampa Bay has to be a bit puzzled about the amount of runs its giving up in this series, entering Wednesday with a 3.51 ERA, which led the American League for the eighth consecutive day.  “Everything they’re hitting is finding an open spot,” commented Rays manager Joe Maddon.  The Rays are now 4-4 in interleague play, including losses in four of five games at home.  Tampa Bay is 9-12 against left-handed starters this year.

Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65 ERA) has watched the club alternate wins and losses over his last six outings, as he failed to earn a decision in a 5-1 road victory over the Miami Marlins last time out.  The 25-year-old struggled with his control in that effort, issuing a season-high seven free passes.  The right-hander is 3-2 with a 1.59 ERA in seven home outings, with opponents hitting just .217 against him.  Hellickson will be facing the Mets for the first time in his career.

Bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 11-5 mark after losing the first two games of a series, while the Mets are 1-4 in Santana’s last five road starts.

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