The first weekend of interleague play is in the books and these two teams are ready for an AL East showdown to kick off an exciting week.
Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Boston won two of three games in Philadelphia, including an 8-3 victory on Sunday over Phillies ace Roy Halladay, grabbing a series victory in the year’s first interleague weekend. The Red Sox will now continue a six-game road trip, heading to Tropicana Field to take on the first-place Rays. The road team will certainly have revenge on its mind, after being swept by the Rays at Fenway in a four-game home series back on 4/16-4/19/10. During that series, Boston was outscored 24-9, losing all four games as a home favorite (-592). Being 10-14 against the division has done the Red Sox no favors (-780), as they are 8.5 games back of the Rays heading into this three-game set.
Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz is an even 2-2 with a 2.01 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay (+100). His earned-run-average against the Rays is the second-best in the league among all pitchers with a minimum of 15 innings pitched, trailing only Chicago White Sox LHP John Danks. The right-hander won his last start at Tropicana Field, allowing three runs in six innings of a 6-3 Red Sox win on 9/3/09. He is a perfect 3-0 with an impressive 1.86 ERA in three road starts this season, despite tallying more walks (9) than strikeouts (8). Boston is a perfect 7-0 in his last seven road starts overall (+753).
Tampa Bay comes home after going 4-1 on its recent five-game road to the Bronx and Houston. The Rays improved its MLB-best road record to 19-5 and are 32-12 overall (+1,330), the best start since Seattle won 33 of its first 44 in 2001. Monday’s contest begins a stretch of 13 of their next 18 games at home for the Rays. Tampa has yet to produce a profit for bettors with a 13-7 mark at Tropicana Field, but the team is a fantastic 127-63 at home the past three years (+3,600). The team has dominated the AL East this season, posting a 14-4 mark in 2010 (+980) and 101-68 (+3,300) the last three seasons.
Rays SP Wade Davis is part of a Rays rotation that has allowed three earned runs or less 38 times in the team’s first 44 games. Davis is an even 2-2 with a 4.13 ERA in four home starts this year, with the Rays producing an even 2-2 record. The right-hander picked up a no-decision in leading Tampa Bay to a 3-1 road victory over Boston on 4/16, allowing just a single run and two hits over five innings. That start was dramatically different than his first against the Red Sox, when he allowed eight runs and six hits over just 2.2 innings at Fenway Park in his second career start.
Bettors will have a definite interest on both sides of this game, as the Red Sox aren’t normally an underdog in three straight games, while the Rays are an ATM machine right now. Situational players will play Boston in a big revenge spot, after getting swept by Tampa Bay in April at Fenway Park. Boston is a perfect 5-0 against divisional opponents in the first game of a series, when playing with the revenge of being swept at home.