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#965 Tampa Bay Rays -115 vs.
#966 Boston Red Sox 9
Sunday, June 9, 2019 at 1:05pm EDT
Written by Chris Altruda

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Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox

When and Where: Sunday, June 9, Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., 1:05 p.m. EDT.

Coming off one of his worst starts of the year, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell faces a stern challenge in bouncing back Sunday when the Tampa Bay Rays wrap up their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

Snell sneaking consistency, run support to end five-start winless run

It would be harsh to say Snell (3-5, 3.65 ERA) is enduring a Cy Young hangover, but at the same time, he has already matched his loss total for all of 2018 a month before the All-Star break.

The left-hander has been plagued by a lack of run support — the 3.41 runs per game the Rays have provided in his 12 starts ranked seventh-lowest in the majors entering play Saturday.

Tuesday night’s 9-6 loss at Detroit, though, was more on Snell as he was tagged for six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. He failed to work his way out of a disastrous fifth inning in which the Tigers plated five runs.

“[Blake] got his strikeouts, but I also think the Tigers’ hitters did a good job of spoiling pitches, got his pitch count up, laid off some pitches that we generally see a lot of clubs swing at,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told the team’s official website. “They made some adjustments, but obviously the big blow came from maybe one of the game’s best. But what they did to get to that situation and 90 pitches in 4 1/3 is just not ideal for any of our pitchers, especially not Blake.”

For those who believe the glass is half-full for Blake, it should be remembered he went 14-2 with a 1.47 ERA from June 1 on last season.

He also pitched well against the Red Sox last year, going 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts and holding that potent lineup to three runs and a .157 batting average over 25 innings while striking out 27.

Snell won his only start at Fenway in 2018, yielding two runs and five hits while fanning nine in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-3 victory. The southpaw is 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in eight career starts versus Boston.

Mookie Betts is 6 for 20 with a homer versus Snell, while backup catcher Sandy Leon could be in line for a spot start since he is 6 for 11 against the lefty.

Rodriguez looking for third straight winning start

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 4.88 ERA) is looking to win three straight starts for the first time this year and record a fifth win in his last six decisions for Boston.

The left-hander recorded back-to-back road victories ahead of this outing and limited Kansas City to a two-run homer and little else over 5 2-3 innings of Boston’s 8-3 win Tuesday night. When Rodriguez has been on over his last six starts, he has been superb — going 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA compared to 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in the other two.

“I felt good, I think the only pitch that wasn’t working well was my changeup, I wasn’t throwing it right where I wanted it, but the others were working good,” Rodriguez told the Boston Herald. “The only pitch I missed was the cutter to the one who hit the homer, I tried to go in on him and I just missed it over the plate and he made pretty good contact.”

Rodriguez did not get a decision at Tampa Bay on April 19 after yielding four runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings of Boston’s 6-4 victory. The Venezuelan has failed to beat the Rays in seven previous starts, going 0-2 with a 6.42 ERA.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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This is a confidence pick in Snell, who has not allowed a run in 13 innings over the previous two starts after the ones he allowed five or more runs this year. The left-hander’s track record against the Red Sox also plays into this pick, as does his counterpart Rodriguez’s run of futility versus Tampa Bay.

Prediction: Rays -1.5 runs (+130)

Full-Game Total Pick

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While the expectation is for Snell to pitch better than he did Tuesday, the over has been trending with him and even stronger with Rodriguez. The over is 5-2-1 in Snell’s last eight starts and 12-2 in Rodriguez’s last 14 outings.

The over is also 4-0 in Rodriguez’s last four starts at Fenway and 5-1 when he gets the ball for game four of a series. With the line dropping down the half-run to 8.5, the over is the clear play here.

Prediction: OVER 8.5 runs (-110)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The expectation is for Tampa Bay’s offense to bounce back after being held under four runs for the first time in seven games in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Rays have also scored four or more runs in nine of their last 11 road games and in five of eight games versus the Red Sox this year.

Prediction: Rays OVER 4 runs (-131)

First Five Innings Side Pick

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The Red Sox are worth a flyer here given they are 8-2 in the first five innings over Rodriguez’s last 10 starts coupled with Tampa Bay’s struggles to back Snell with runs. While the return is not ideal, there is still a sense the Rays left-hander is going bounce back strong, which requires the half-run’s help.

Prediction: Red Sox +0.5 runs (-160)

First Five Innings Total Bet

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Again, this is a hunch pick about Snell with the expectation the teams will run right up to the number without going over. The five-inning under is 4-3 in Snell’s road starts.

Prediction: UNDER 4.5 runs (-121)

First Five Innings Prop Prediction

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Tampa Bay has scored at least one run in the first three innings in four of its five games at Fenway Park this year, only failing in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Rays have also been one of the better-scoring teams early in games, averaging .57 runs or better in each of the first three frames.

Prediction: Rays OVER 1 run first 3 innings (-131)

Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is a freelance sportswriter based in Chicago. He has worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Can be followed on Twitter at @AlTruda73.