MLB Betting: Red Sox and Rays close series

By: Jimmy Sirody | Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Matt Garza

The Rays are 4-1 this season when Matt Garza starts against the Sox.

According to the stat heads at ESPN, the Tampa Bay Rays have a 97.1 chance of reaching the postseason, yet their followers are about to have skull explosions.

When the Rays are on a roll, they are awfully impressive. And when they aren’t? They can give up 28 runs in three straight losses.

The Boston Red Sox fielded a lineup on Labor Day at Fenway Park that featured four rookies and trounced Tampa Bay, 12-5. It’s like spring training only the games count.

The Red Sox are still playing to make a run at the playoffs, yet the Boston media has pretty much written them off. Monday’s headline in the Boston Globe was Close the Book? And the Boston Herald went with GIVE IT UP.

According to Baseball Prospectus, there is a 6.32545 percent chance the Sox will make the postseason. They are a desperate team and manager Terry Francona is willing to do almost anything to make the final weeks of the season relevant.

That includes starting Clay Buchholz (15-6, 2.25) in Wednesday’s series finale with the Rays at Fenway Park on three days rest. It will be the first time the right-hander has been used in that situation.

Tampa Bay is banking on Matt Garza (14-7, 3.46) to send the team on to Toronto for a weekend set with the Jays on a high note. Certainly a reasonable assumption since the Rays are 4-1 in the right-hander’s five previous starts against the Sox this year and 12-3 in his last 15 versus the Beantown bashers.

Garza has posted a 1.31 ERA since August 1 (41 innings). He has given up only one home run during that span after yielding 20 over the other 135 2/3 innings he’s pitched this year.

Buchholz and Garza matched pitches for the only time this season on August 28 at Tropicana Field. The Rays won 3-2 and Garza limited the Sox to one run and six hits in seven innings. Buchholz yielded one earned run and four hits over 7 1/3 innings.

Garza has started twice in Beantown this season, notching victories in both outings while allowing 10 hits and three earned runs in 15 innings.

Buchholz has won three of five career decisions against Tampa Bay with a 1.81 ERA, picking up 43 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. He has cashed seven of 11 at home with a 2.38 ERA and allowed just one homer in 75 2/3 innings.

The Rays have lost eight of their last 10 on the road when facing teams on the plus side of the ledger while Boston has won 11 of its last 13 against winning clubs. The Red Sox are also 7-1 in Buchholz’s last eight home appearances.

The last four meetings in Boston prior to Tuesday had ended on the high side. However, Tampa Bay has strayed ‘under’ the MLB odds at a 21-8-1 clip in Garza’s last 30 road starts and Boston has ended on the low side in eight straight at home with Buchholz on the bump.

The home team is 6-2 in Gary Cederstrom’s last eight games behind the plate.

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