Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are already in a hole in their second appearance in the playoffs in team history. They'll take on the Texas Rangers in Game 2 at Tropicana Field on Thursday afternoon, as the visitors try to take the second step towards their first postseason series win ever.
In Game 1, LHP Cliff Lee was absolutely phenomenal. He only allowed one run and scattered five hits in seven innings of work, striking out ten along the way. It was a long day for LHP David Price, who gave up five runs, four of which were earned, in just 6.2 innings. OF Nelson Cruz and C Bengie Molina both went yard for the visitors, who took the 1-0 series lead and snared home field advantage from the Rays. Rocco Baldelli started for Tampa Bay at DH in a very surprising move. However, he killed a rally in the first inning by striking out with the bases loaded and two outs and ultimately went 0-for-3 on the day. RF Ben Zobrist homered off of Lee in the seventh inning to at least start a rally, but the Rangers' bullpen shut down Tampa Bay in the final two innings to seal Game 1.
It'll be up to LHP CJ Wilson to pitch Texas to a 2-0 series lead on Thursday afternoon. In his first full season as a starter, Wilson made it through the entire season, going 15-8 in 33 starts with a 3.35 ERA. He fanned 170 batters, but walked 93 as well. Opposing batters only hit .217 against him on the year. Wilson has one start against Tampa Bay in his career, which came earlier this season. He gave up five runs, three of which were earned, but he was good enough got the 'W'. Wilson also has a pair of wins, four holds, and a save against them in his career. The southpaw has a 2.45 ERA in 14 appearances against the Rays.
It has been quite a long season, particularly down the stretch against for RHP James Shields. "Big Game James" hasn't won a start since August 29th, and he really hasn't had a great start since then either. In his last three outings, Shields gave up 16 runs and 27 hits in 16.1 innings of work. Manager Joe Maddon is hoping that Shields ultimately pitches well at Tropicana Field, as his ERA was just 4.53 there this year, a real improvement on his whopping 5.18 ERA for the season. Shields started 33 games this year and went 13-15. Opposing batters hit .294 against him on the year, and he allowed more homers than anyone in baseball with 34.
The Rays are still 17-6 in their L/23 meetings against the Rangers at home, and we tend to think that they can get back in this series on Thursday. The offense will get something going if Wilson starts walking batters, something that Lee does once in a blue moon. These are short odds for a great home team, so back the Rays in MLB betting action.
Selection: Tampa Bay Rays -120