Tampa Bay Rays +142 at New York Yankees -151 (Total: 8)
David Price (5-1, 2.35 ERA) vs. C.C. Sabathia (4-0, 4.15 ERA)
So how much do the Yankees miss Mariano Rivera? Less than one week into the post-Mariano era (ok, it is possible he is going to eventually come back, but would you really set the odds at any better than 50/50 a 42-year old recovers from an ACL injury and comes back as a dominant closer?!?) and the damage is already rearing its fierce head. The Yankees went into the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes and one Matt Joyce three-run blast later they hit the showers with a 4-1 loss. I don’t think I’m making a huge leap when I say I don’t think that happens against Mo.
The Yankees will try to bounce back in the rubber game of the series in an absolutely delightful pitching matchup between Price and Sabathia. These two foes know each other well from their many AL East battles over the past three seasons and both have pitched decently against the other. Both enter tonight pitching well this season as they each will be seeking their fifth consecutive win. So obviously something has to give… let’s dig into the numbers and see where we can find an edge.
The Rays have had the Yankees number of late, including the dramatic sweep to end 2011 (and Evan Longoria’s memorable playoff-clinching walkoff) and their three game sweep of them to begin this season. In all they have won seven of eight against the Bronx Bombers and have to feel good throwing their ace (or co-ace with Shields) tonight. Price is 5-2 lifetime against the Yankees with a 2.78 ERA in 13 starts.
Sabathia was roughed up by the Rays on Opening Day, but has settled in over the past three or four starts. However, lifetime against the Rays, never known as an offensive juggernaut, his is just 9-7 with a 3.25 ERA. Good numbers, but certainly not the Cy Young-caliber numbers he puts up against most opponents. Expect the Rays to claw out a few runs against him early, and force the workhorse to the bench a little earlier than the Yankees would like. If they can drive him out by the sixth or seventh, it certainly plays into the Rays favor, as evidenced by last night’s rough outing by the newly remodeled bullpen trying to close down the game.
I love being able to get David Price at +142. It’s too good a value play for a toss-up game. Give me the Rays to win.
Free Pick: Tampa Bay Rays to WIN +142