The Minnesota Twins are in Boston Tuesday for game one of a three-game series with the Red Sox, in what could very well be a playoff preview. The Twins are in first place, and after letting the Cleveland Indians catch them in early August, they finished the month strong and have now put five and a half games between themselves and the Indians for first place in the American League Central Division race. The Twins have won eight out of their last nine games and would love to sweep the Red Sox right out of the playoff picture in this series.
For Boston, they are scratching and clawing and doing everything thing they can to get back into the playoff picture in the American League. The defending World Series champs find themselves a whopping fifteen games back of the New York Yankees for the AL East Division title and are five and a half games back of the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card, and final playoff spot in the league.
The Red Sox have won six out of their last eight games, and eleven out of their last fifteen as they are playing with a sense of urgency. But even with this recent surge, they are longshots to make the playoffs and would have to catch fire here in September and get some help from the Rays, Indians, and Athletics, the teams that they are chasing if they are going to backdoor into the playoffs to defend their title.
Starting tonight for the Red Sox is Rick Porcello (12-10 5.42 ERA), and for the Twins it is rookie Randy Dobnak (0-0 0.00 ERA) making his first-ever big-league start. The game total over-under is set at eleven and a half runs. The Red Sox are -135 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Fenway Park in Boston.
Randy Dobnak started his season pitching in single-A ball. He then was quickly moved up to double-A, and eventually triple-A, before getting the call to join the Twins in early August. He was light’s out in the minors this season as he ran up a 12-4 record with an ERA of just 2.07. But I don’t need to tell you guys that pitching in single-A ball against a bunch of high school kids and having success doesn’t mean that you can walk into the major leagues and continue that success, especially against a hard-hitting team like the Boston Red Sox.
Dobnak has appeared in three games so far this season for Minnesota and has been decent. His ERA is showing at 0.00, but he did give up two unearned runs in his eight innings of work. He has done a great job of getting out of jams so far this year as he has allowed thirteen hits in those eight innings of work. It is hard to draw too much inference from just eight innings pitched, but if he is going to put that many runners on base tonight against Boston, he is going to certainly give up some runs.
Rick Porcello is having a strange season. He hasn’t pitched very well, but he does a good job of winning games. And the main reason for that is that this Boston team just loves to score runs for him. Porcello has a run support number of over seven runs a game, one of the highest totals in the majors, and recently that number has been going up even more. The Red Sox have scored at least nine runs of support for Porcello in seven out of his last eleven starts.
I have this little trend I have been following for most of the season. I bet the over when Rick Porcello pitches. Either he is bad and gives up a bunch of runs, we saw this in June and July where his ERA was north of seven runs, or the Red Sox score a bunch of runs to support him. Either way, the games have been easily coasting to the over. The Red Sox have combined to score ten runs or more in ten of his last eleven games.
And these aren’t games that are barely sneaking over, many of these games are going WAY over. The Red Sox have combined to score at least fourteen runs with Porcello on the mound, twelve times already this season. He has only made twenty-seven starts on the year, meaning that almost 45% of the time he pitches the games are very high scoring. I see no reason that the trend won’t continue tonight.
Especially when you look at the other side of this matchup, the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have been the highest-scoring team in the game all season long and broke the all-time home run record for a season already, with a month left to play. This is a prolific offense and they are going to score runs tonight.
Throw in the fact that the Twins are starting a guy that was pitching in single-A earlier this season, and this could be one of those 13-12 shootout types of games. So, I will continue the trend I have been following much of the year and take the over eleven and a half runs tonight in game one. Don’t be shocked if this one ends in the twenty-run range!