Our blazing hot week came to an abrupt halt last night when we backed the Cleveland Indians and their ace starting pitcher, Corey Kluber, against the Tampa Bay Rays. Kluber had been lights out all season long and was the odds-on favorite to take home yet another Cy Young Award this season and getting the opportunity to back him at such a reasonable price seemed like a no-brainer. Boy was I wrong.
Kluber got hammered and run from the game after just an inning and two-thirds of work. In what was his worst start of the season, Kluber allowed four runs in just over an innings worth of work. It wasn’t at all how I saw the game going. But in a testament to just how hot we have been running, we had won eight out of our eleven bets this week, with half of those wins coming on money line underdogs, the Indians stormed back to make a game out of this.
Cleveland actually took the lead and held onto it until two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning. You don’t ever hear me complaining about umpires or calls that don’t go our way. Baseball is a human game full of human error, and that is what makes it great. But last night left me a little salty. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and two strikes on him, Tommy Pham took what can only be described as a right down the middle strike. Game over, right?
Not so fast. The umpire inexplicably called the pitch a ball. The Cleveland announcers went crazy and showed multiple replays including one with the pitch tracker that showed the ball to clearly be well within the strike zone, in fact, right over the heart of the plate. The call didn’t go our way, and on the next pitch, Pham shanked off a seeing-eye single to right field, and the Rays walked it off with a home run to Ji-Man Choi in the next at-bat.
That type of beat might stick with me a day or two. But what can you do, sometimes the breaks don’t go our way, and we catch a bad beat like this one. For today’s pick, I will stay right here in Tampa as the Rays host the Indians for game two.
The Cleveland Indians are in Tampa Bay Tuesday for game two of a three-game series with the Rays, looking to even up the series after dropping game one in dramatic fashion. With the win, the Rays continue their run as the hottest team in all of baseball, they have now won seventeen out of their last twenty games. The loss shouldn’t hurt the Indians much as they still hold a mammoth lead in their division and their playoff chances are not at all at risk.
Starting tonight for the Rays is Tyler Glasnow (1-5 4.64 ERA), and for the Indians, it is Shane Bieber (9-3 4.63 ERA). The Indians are -112 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The Indians are excited to have a new addition to the team today as Josh Donaldson is expected to be called up from his minor league rehab stint to join the team. Donaldson has been ineffective and injured all season long but if he were to regain his previous form he could very well be a guy that could tilt the pennant race towards the Indians. The former MVP will add a gold glove at third base and a power bat to the lineup for Cleveland. They are going to need all the power they can get tonight as they will start rookie Shane Bieber on the mound.
Bieber hasn’t been terrible this season, but his 9-3 record is certainly inflated by having this strong Indians lineup provide lots of support. Bieber has allowed at least three runs in ten out of his last twelve starts. He isn’t getting hammered, but he is going to give up some runs for sure. He started against this Tampa Bay team just over a week ago and struggled. He pitched five and a third innings, gave up four earned runs and picked up the loss.
Tyler Glasnow is another guy that has had his fair share of struggles this season. Glasnow was a bullpen arm for the Pittsburg Pirates and has been converted into a starter by the Rays since they brought him over at the trade deadline. I know, shocker, right? The Rays using a bullpen arm to start games, who could have seen that coming? He was acquitting himself well in that role as through his first six starts he had an ERA of just 3.23.
That included a start against these Cleveland Indians where he had the best start of his short MLB career. On August 31st, Glasnow held the Indians to just one run on two hits over seven innings while striking out six. It was a flash of just how much potential this kid has. In his next start, he showed just how young and inexperienced he is as he got smashed for seven runs in just two-thirds of an inning of work.
If you can’t beat, ‘em join ‘em, right? And right now, nobody can beat this Tampa Bay Rays team. The Rays have won twelve straight games at home, and I guess nobody has told them yet that they aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, because this team is rampaging through the majors right now. I’ll tell you what, if the Rays by some miracle do find themselves in the playoffs, nobody and I mean nobody is going to want to play them.
Seeing them as home underdogs today against a rookie pitcher they just beat up was shocking. Yeah, Glasnow is no world beater either, but we have seen that the Rays don’t really care who starts the game. They have a seemingly endless supply of bullpen arms that all throw ninety-five waiting to jump into the game at a moment’s notice. Are the Rays changing baseball forever with this tactic of using five or six pitchers every game? Or is just another fluke that will be gone in two years?
Only time will tell on that, but right now, what this Rays team is doing is working. And I like them a lot tonight as home underdogs. I wonder when the last time a team had won twelve straight games at home yet were still home underdogs to a rookie pitcher? Give me the never say die, Tampa Bay Rays tonight as home underdogs at +102!