A pair of American League teams off to disappointing starts kick off a series in the Sunshine State. The Texas Rangers play the first of three against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night. Texas played the rubber game of their three game series on the road against the Astros Sunday: they rallied for a 6-5, 10 inning win in Saturday’s second game of the series. Tampa Bay finished a three game interleague set with the Phillies at home Sunday hoping to avoid a sweep after getting hammered 9-4 Saturday evening. The Rangers took the season series last year, 4-2, sweeping a three game set at Tropicana Field July 21-23, 2017.
Texas Rangers Look to Earn Road Win in Series Opener
Texas managed to dig out of a hole to stun the Astros in the middle game of the series Saturday to set up a rubber game Sunday afternoon. The Rangers entered that contest 5-11 on the year and eight games behind the Angels in the AL West. Texas trailed 5-0 after four innings but tied the game with three in the eighth before winning in the 10th inning. Jurickson Profar (two runs), Joey Gallo (run, two RBI), Adrian Beltre (run, RBI), Ronald Guzman (run, two RBI) and Ryan Rua each had two hits for the Rangers. Beltre (his first), Guzman (his first), Gallo (his fifth) and Isiah Kiner-Falafa (his first) all homered for Texas. Mike Minor recorded a no-decision as he allowed five runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in five innings. Keone Kela (1-0) worked the ninth to earn the win while Alex Claudio got the final out for his first save.
Martin Perez gets the ball for his third start of the season for the Rangers in this contest. He is 1-1 with an 11.88 ERA, a 2.76 WHIP, four walks and three strikeouts over 8.1 innings of work. Perez was roughed up and took the loss in his last start, which came Tuesday at home against the Angels. He allowed eight runs on nine hits with four walks and two strikeouts in three innings of work as the Rangers were hammered 11-1. Perez makes his seventh career appearance and sixth start against the Rays in this contest looking for his first win. He is 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA, a 1.615 WHIP, nine walks and 22 strikeouts over 30.1 innings of work. Perez is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA, a 1.444 WHIP, six walks and 12 strikeouts over 18 innings in three career appearances, two starts, at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay Rays Continuing to Struggle in All Facets
Tampa Bay continued to flounder as they dropped the first two games of their series at home against the Phillies after Saturday’s drubbing. The Rays entered Sunday 3-11 and already nine games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings. Tampa Bay never led as they trailed 6-0 after one and a half innings. Mallex Smith (run) and Kevin Kiermaier (two runs) each had two hits for the Rays while C.J. Cron drove in a pair of runs. Matt Duffy and Adeiny Hechevarria drove in the other runs for Tampa Bay. Chris Archer (1-1) took the loss as he allowed seven runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts over four innings of work.
Blake Snell makes his fourth start of the season for Tampa Bay here. He is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, 10 walks and 17 strikeouts over 15 innings of work this season. Snell earned his first win of the season in his last start, which came Tuesday on the road against the White Sox. He threw six innings, allowing one run on one hit with five walks and 10 strikeouts in a game the Rays hung on to win 6-5. Snell, in his 47th career major league start, faces the Rangers for the first time. He is 8-7 with a 3.10 ERA, a 1.319 WHIP, 56 walks and 121 strikeouts over 116 innings in 21 career starts at Tropicana Field.
- Rangers are 6-1 in their last 7 games on astroturf
- Rays are 0-4 in their last 4 games vs. a left-handed starter
- Rays are 0-5 in their last 5 games on astroturf
- Rays are 0-5 in their last 5 home games
The Rangers haven’t been great and Perez has to pitch better than he did against the Angels. Fortunately, he faces a Tampa Bay team that struggles to put runs on the board. Texas showed a lot of grit rallying from five down against the defending champs on the road to prevail in extra innings Saturday. We haven’t seen that kind of fight from Tampa Bay outside of the season opener when they rallied to beat Boston. Look for the Rangers to take the opener of the series as the Rays continue to struggle at the plate.
Pick: Texas Rangers +135
Let’s be honest: Perez was brutal in his start against the Angels and he clearly is working back into form after missing time in spring training and the first turn through the rotation in the regular season. With that said, he’s not going to sport a 2.76 WHIP or give up a .511 OBP all season long. On the flip side, the Rays were 28th in runs, 28th in team batting average and 29th in slugging percentage entering Sunday’s action. Those aren’t numbers you want to hang your hat on. The pitching hasn’t been great either as the team was 22nd in team ERA with a 4.67 mark. Could the Rays quickly fade out of relevance before the opening month of the season is up?
The under is 8-1-1 in the Rangers’ last 10 road games, 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of less than .400 and 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400. Tampa Bay has seen the under go 4-1 in their last five on astroturf, 4-1 in their last five against the AL West and 4-0 in Snell’s last four starts in series openers. Given Tampa Bay’s inability to hit with any consistency, this one likely falls short of the total.