TAMPA BAY RAYS (70-57)
at TEXAS RANGERS (75-52)
First pitch: Monday, 8:05 p.m. EDT
Line: Tampa Bay -125, Texas +115, Total: 8Ĺ
In a potential playoff preview, the Rangers will host the Rays on Monday to begin a three-game set.
Texas lost to the Twins Sunday night to snap a four-game winning streak, a span in which they scored 39 runs (9.8 per game). Overall, the Rangers have won seven of their past nine. Derek Holland takes the mound for Texas, sporting an 8-6 record in 2012 despite a 4.96 ERA as a starter. He limits base runners well with a 1.21 WHIP, but has yielded 23 long balls on the season. Holland has gone seven or more innings twice in his past three starts, a span in which he has a 3.54 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, with the Rangers winning all three of those games. However, Tampa Bayís Monday starter, ace David Price, has been unhittable lately. Heís run off 15 consecutive scoreless innings in his past two starts, allowing a total of eight base runners in the two outings, while striking out 16. But Price has not figured out the Rangers out in his career, with a 1-6 record against them in 10 starts with a 5.03 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. And itís difficult not to like the Rangers in any game in which they are underdogs, especially at home where they have an AL-best 41-24 (.641) record. Play on TEXAS to win this one.
This three-star FoxSheets managerial trend also favors the Rangers:
RON WASHINGTON is 40-15 (72.7%, +26.6 Units) against the money line vs. AL teams allowing 3.7 or less runs/game on the season as the manager of TEXAS. The average score was TEXAS 5.9, OPPONENT 3.9 - (Rating = 3*).
Despite just losing two straight to the Aís, the Rays have dominated AL West opponents in 2012 with a stellar 21-11 (.656) mark against them. Price was able to find his form in his one start against the Rangers this season, earning the win in a 6.1-innning effort, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six. Overall in 2012, he has a 2.28 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, placing him in the thick of the AL Cy Young race. He averages 6.8 innings per start, and is also supported by one of baseballís best bullpens that has an AL-leading 2.85 ERA and 41 saves (tied-2nd in AL) this year. The relievers are much worse on the road, however, where they have a mediocre 3.64 ERA.
Like Price, Holland has struggled against the Rays in his career, though Holland has managed to earn victories in the process. He has a 4-2 record in seven career starts versus Tampa Bay, despite a 5.90 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. One of those losses came this year when he allowed five earned runs on an uncharacteristically-high nine hits in seven innings. Although he lost to Price that day, 5-2, Holland did strike out eight Rays hitters. Like Price, Holland also has a good bullpen to support him as well, with a 3.24 ERA and 30 saves in 36 chances (83%) this year. As home underdogs, the Rangers have to be the play here.