Well, we made it through almost the entire MLB season and last night we took what will surely end up being our toughest beat of the year. We backed the blazing hot Tampa Bay Rays, winners of fourteen out of their last seventeen games, on the road as small favorites against the out of contention Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays took a seemingly insurmountable 8-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, and that’s when the wheels fell off for the Rays.
The Rays surrendered not one, not two, but three home runs in the bottom of the ninth to get shocked for seven runs and lose the game in devastating walk-off fashion. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Rays as they are desperately trying to scratch and claw their way back into the playoff race in the American League. With the loss and Oakland Athletics win, they are now six and a half games back of the A’s, and that might just prove to be too much to overcome with just a handful of games left on the schedule.
If and when the Rays fail to make the playoffs this season many Rays fans may look back at this game as the straw that broke the camels back. We will look to shake off that nasty beat today as we take a look at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.
The Boston Red Sox clinched the American League East Division title last night after beating the New York Yankees in the Bronx, 11-6. Now that the division title is all wrapped up, the Red Sox can focus their attention on setting up their rotation for the playoffs. The Sox head to Cleveland today for game one of a three-game set with the Indians. Cleveland has had the luxury of having their division wrapped up since basically April and are finally getting healthy at just the right time to make a push for the World Series.
Both of tonight’s starters are guys that these teams are happy to get back as they have both spent over a month on the disabled list. Boston will start Chris Sale (12-4 1.92 ERA), and for the Indians, it is Trevor Bauer (12-6 2.22 ERA). The Indians are -134 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Trevor Bauer is expected to start tonight for the Cleveland Indians but don’t expect to see too much of him. Bauer was having a career year and was a leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award this year before hitting the DL and missing six weeks. Bauer is expected to pitch “a couple of innings” tonight which means I would be shocked to see him for more than three innings max, no matter how well he pitches.
The Indians will then likely turn things over to Shane Bieber. Bieber has been very shaky recently for the Indians. Bieber has allowed at least three earned runs in six out of his last seven starts and on the season since joining the rotation in June, he has allowed three earned runs or more in twelve of his eighteen starts. The guy isn’t terrible, but you are going to score some runs on him for sure.
The Red Sox are looking to ease their superstar starter back into the swing of things as well as Chris Sale will likely be limited in this one, although probably not to the extent that Bauer will be. Sale has made two starts since returning from the DL earlier this month. He pitched one inning his first start and three innings in his next start. He has yet to give up a run since returning to the rotation. The Red Sox have won the last nine games where sale has started. The Red Sox are looking to keep Sale at around 65 pitches tonight, which means we could see as many as five or six innings from the probable Cy Young Award winner.
If both of these pitchers were completely healthy, this would be a blockbuster matchup. Instead, we are going to get one, maybe two innings from Bauer and probably five innings from Sale. Knowing that Bauer won’t pitch much, this line surprises me a lot. We basically have 75% of Chris Sale going against Shane Bieber. And Bieber is the favorite? Huh?
The Red Sox are expected to rest some of their best players since they wrapped up the division title last night. But Boston is deep and getting the chance to back them with Chris Sale o the mound as major underdogs is just too much value to pass up on. Even if Bauer is great for his couple of innings, and that is a big maybe, the guy hasn’t pitched in a long time he could be rusty, I just don’t trust Shane Bieber to shut down the Red Sox. Even if it is mostly Red Sox reserves.
And it’s not like this game means a lot to the Indians either, they have had their division clinched for weeks. So, in a game where both teams are likely to be giving less than their best, I will take the better starter, getting all the dog money in this one. Give me the Boston Red Sox as road underdogs tonight in game one at +124!