Red Sox, Rays Seeking Confidence Boost
In recent years, a Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays betting game preview would focus on two of the top title contenders in the American League squaring off. However, it is a different storyline in the early part of the 2022 season.
Boston is 20th in baseball with a team ERA of 3.96 and allowing 14 homers hasn’t helped. Tampa Bay is only slightly better with a 3.73 ERA despite limiting opponents to a .212 batting average, the eighth-best mark in MLB.
The opener in the three-game series features a pair of reclamation projects on the mound. Boston’s Michael Wacha has an 0.96 ERA and Tampa Bay’s Corey Kluber has a 1.86 ERA.
Team records: Red Sox 6-7 (fourth, AL East), Rays 7-6 (tied for second, AL East)
Dates: Three-game series starts Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET (teams also play at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday and at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday)
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Clutch Hits Eluding Red Sox
The hope was that the Red Sox hitters would shoulder the load until the injury-ravaged Boston staff started to get some of its top pitchers back. That hasn’t been the case so far.
Boston was 3 of 30 with runners in scoring position as it dropped a series to Toronto to fall under .500. The Red Sox have scored three runs or less in three of the last four games.
Xander Bogaerts leads the Red Sox with a .354 average, but with six RBIs in 12 games, he is on a pace to approach last season’s total of 79 runs driven in rather than the back-to-back seasons with more than 100 RBIs in 2018 and 2019.
Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers are lingering around the .300 mark in batting average and along with J.D. Martinez are the top run producers for Boston.
Boston is going to need more from offseason acquisitions Trevor Story and Jackie Bradley Jr. moving forward. That is a key piece in the Red Sox vs Rays betting game preview.
Franco a Ray of Hope
The best thing for the Tampa Bay Rays during their mediocre start has been the hot bat of Wander Franco.
Franco was a highly touted prospect who overcame a slow start to his major League career with a strong finish as a rookie in 2021. That proved to be just the opening act. Franco has hits in each of his last five games. He is third in the American League with a .392 average and is tied for the major league lead with 20 hits. He will be front and center in the Red Sox vs Rays betting game preview
However, some of the other Tampa Bay hitters are struggling to find consistency.
Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe are batting only .240 and .208, respectively, as the Rays have scored only 13 runs in the six losses.
Tampa Bay did score 14 runs to win the final two games in the recently completed series against the Chicago Cubs to move over .500.
Tampa Bay can’t expect Franco and Ji-Man Choi, who are both hitting over .390, to do all the heavy lifting on offense if the Rays want to compete in the AL East Division.
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox IF: Bogaerts is 11 of 21 with four doubles and three RBIs in his last five games to raise his average from .222 to .354.
Wander Franco, Rays SS: Franco is 9 of 22 over his last five games with four hits, four doubles and a home run. He has no strikeouts in those five games and he has driven in four runs over the last three contests.
Jeffrey Springs, Rays P: Springs hasn’t allowed a run in six appearances. He has allowed just two hits with seven strikeouts in five innings.
Garrett Whitlock, Red Sox P: Whitlock hasn’t allowed a run in his last three relief appearances with seven strikeouts, two walks and two hits in 7.1 innings of work.
Kutter Crawford, Red Sox P: Crawford has allowed five hits and seven runs in his last two appearances. He has three strikeouts and six walks in two innings of work.
Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox 1B: Dalbec has three hits in his last 21 at-bats over the last six games. He has struck out four times.
Josh Fleming, Rays P: Fleming has allowed 11 hits and eight runs in 6.2 innings over his last two appearances.
Mike Zunino, Rays C: Zunino is hitless in his last 14 at-bats with five strikeouts.
The injuries are piling up for the Red Sox. Boston is already without starting pitchers Chris Sale and James Paxton for an extended period of time. Now Rich Hill, the probable starter for Sunday’s series finale has been placed on the bereavement list. Outfielder J.D. Martinez (groin) missed the last game, and is questionable for the series opener. Catcher Kevin Plawecki and infielder Jonathan Arauz are both on the COVID-19 list.
Tampa Bay’s pitching staff is going to be tested with starting pitchers Shane Baz, Yonny Chirinos and Tyler Glasnow all on the 60-day injured list. Reliever Nick Anderson is also on the 60-day injury list along with fellow pitchers Brendan McKay and Luis Patino. JT Chargois, Ryan Yarbrough and Peter Fairbanks are also sidelined.
Red Sox vs Rays Starting Pitchers
Friday: Michael Wacha (Red Sox) vs. Corey Kluber (Rays)
Saturday: Rich Hill (Red Sox) vs. TBA
Sunday: Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox) vs. Shane McClanahan (Rays)
Red Sox vs Rays Betting Guide
There are some intriguing pitching matchups in the series as Wacha and Kluber are looking a little bit like the pitchers who racked up wins and quality starts earlier in their careers. Eovaldi will square off with McClanahan, who is second in the American League with 24 strikeouts. Perhaps that is why the Red Sox vs Rays odds has the total set at eight combined runs for Friday’s matchup.
Boston has won the last three meetings with Tampa Bay and scored 26 runs in those games. Four of the last nine meetings between the teams have been decided by one run while the home team has won four of the last five matchups.
The Red Sox are 3-3 on the road and Tampa Bay is 4-3 at home so there isn’t a home-field trend to help with the Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays prediction.