The first-place Tampa Bay Rays could put a hammerlock on the AL East Division this week if they can sweep the second-place Red Sox in Boston. However, the Sox have been rolling at home of late and will be series favorites on the MLB odds. The three-game set starts Tuesday.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
The East is up for grabs.— MLB (@MLB) August 8, 2021
Which team are you taking? pic.twitter.com/da8nxGKQcM
- When: Tuesday, August 10th // Thursday, August 12th
- Where: Fenway Park
- TV: NESN
- Radio: WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM
- Live Stream: MLB.tv
- MLB Betting Odds: TBA
Remember, we are back to just two wild-card spots in each league this season after there were four in the shortened 2020 campaign. Owners wanted to keep that playoff format in place, but the MLB Players’ Association wanted something in return – the relationship between those sides is incredibly toxic and it’s why there might not be a 2022 season due to a lockout. But that’s a story for another day.
Winning the division gets a team right into the Division Series, while the wild-card team obviously has to play in that one-game playoff to reach the Division Series. It is likely that both these teams make the playoffs regardless but definitely not a sure thing because the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners are also all in the wild-card hunt.
After this series, the Rays will host the Red Sox for three games at the end of August/start of September, and Tampa Bay visits Boson from Sept. 6-8 to close the season set. The Rays lead the season series 5-4 but are 0-3 in Boston.
Tampa Bay is 21-8 since July 4, 49-25 since May 13 and 55-29 since May 2, the best in the majors over each stretch. Rather amazingly in their four-game winning streak, the Rays have trailed in all of them and have trailed in 35 of 68 of their wins this season. Those 35 come-from-behind wins are the best in baseball.
The Rays’ three-game lead atop the AL East is tied for their largest of the season and largest through at least 100 games since the end of play on Sept. 24, 2008. Tampa was a season-high-tying 4.5 games back of the Red Sox in the division as recently as the end of play on July 5, but since then the Rays are 19-8 and the Red Sox are 12-16.
The scheduled pitching matchup for Tuesday is Rays youngster Luis Patino vs. Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. Patino (2-3, 4.42) surrendered three runs on five hits over five innings in last Tuesday’s loss to the Mariners. The right-hander has induced 56 swings-and-misses in his last four appearances combined, compared to 38 swings-and-misses in his first five appearances (3 starts). This will be his first career look at the Red Sox.
Boston’s Rodriguez (8-6, 5.33) shut out the Tigers over five innings in his last start, striking out a season-high 10. The team is 14-7 in his starts, and the club has scored more than two runs in just two of those losses. Rodriguez 47 called third strikes this season, tied with teammate Martín Perez for most among southpaws in the majors and also tied with Perez for 2nd-most in the AL behind the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, who has 49.
Wednesday’s scheduled pitchers are Tampa’s Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.76) and Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi (9-7, 4.07) and Thursday it’s Josh Fleming (9-5, 4.12) for the Rays and Nick Pivetta (8-5, 4.34) for the Sox.
The Red Sox are 33-22 (.600) at home, the 4th-best record in the AL (10th-best in MLB). They are 18-9 (.667) at home since Fenway opened to full capacity on May 29, including 14-5 in their last 19 games there.