Boston Red Sox +105 @ Philadelphia Phillies -125 (Total: 7 )
Josh Beckett (6-2, 1.86 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (8-5, 2.87 ERA)
Don’t be surprised if we see this pitching matchup later this season, as in late October. Baseball fans are in for a real treat tonight as the best team in each respective league square off at Citizens Bank Park. Josh Beckett has battled back from several injury-riddles season and appears to be back in Cy Young form, leading the major leagues in ERA with a miniscule 1.68 average. Cliff Lee, also a recent battler of injuries, has been strong all season in his return to the Phillies, and his last four starts has been the most dominant hurler on the planet, going 3-0 and allowing just one run in his 33 innings pitched.
Despite the incredible firepower both these lineups bring to the yard, it is hard to see this game being anything other than a brilliant pitcher’s duel. Philadelphia has gone under in 10 of the last 11 interleague games, which isn’t surprising given the slight advantage a pitchers generally earns when facing a hitter who hasn’t seen them live before. Take that same theory and amplify it for the amazing quality of the Phillies staff, and it is easy to see why the under has been a relatively safe play this season for interleague games.
If you are dead set on picking a winner in this game, I’d lean towards Boston, simply because of the plus-money line with Beckett on the hill. Over their past 20 games, Boston is 15-5, however they have lost 4 of 5 most recently; to the Padres and Pirates no less.
My pick is the more logical one; the UNDER 7 runline. Yes, Philly is a bandbox and these two teams have historically put up some runs when facing each other, but tonight you are looking at two of the best pitchers in baseball squaring off at the top of their considerable game’s. It feel like a 3-2, 2-1 type game tonight.
Pittsburgh Pirates +120 @ Toronto Blue Jays -130 (Total: 8.5)
Kevin Correia (9-6, 3.65 ERA) vs. JoJo Reyes (3-6, 4.34 ERA)
A little less than a month ago, JoJo Reyes took the mound hoping to avoid setting a new major league record for futility with 24 consecutive starts without earning a win. He did just that, and since then has been not just “not awful”, he has actually been a very good starting pitcher. The Blue Jays patience has been rewarded, as Reyes has posted a respectable 3-2 record despite having a little difficulty with the long ball, allowing two homeruns in each of his last three outings.
Pittsburgh nears the halfway mark this season playing good baseball and tantalizing their fans with the possibility of posting a plus .500 record for the first time in nineteen seasons. Their starting pitching has been an enormous reason why. Correia has been solid all season, and even better pitching on the road. Seven of his nine wins have come away from home, posting an impressive 2.34 ERA. The Pirates still struggle offensively; with only Andrew McCutchen putting up numbers that even merit distant consideration for an All Star selection, but Correia and the rest of their strong staff has kept the Pirates surprisingly close in the NL Central.
Again, if forced to pick a winner, I’d lean Pittsburgh simply for the value of getting a favorable pitching matchup at +120, but again, my pick is on the total; in this case the UNDER 8.5.
The line balloons a little bit given the relative anonymity of Kevin Correa and the less-than-stellar reputation of JoJo Reyes, but in fact, both have been pitching well of late. Toronto has gone UNDER in 10 of 12 of their last games, and 8 of 10 in interleague play. Those are both trends to large to chalk up as coincidence. Play the odds tonight, stick with the UNDER 8.5 total.