MLB Betting: Boston pitcher Jon Lester to tower over Arizona

The Baltimore Orioles will keep pace in the American League Wild Card race with a victory at home Friday versus the Seattle Mariners. Orioles starter Chris Tillman has pitched well all season, but has come out of the gates in the second half looking particularly sharp: since the All Star break Tillman is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA. He’s struck out 15 in 15 innings in that stretch. Tillman’s track record against the Mariners’ hitters is exceptional. Seattle batters have a combined .156 batting average (50 plate appearances) versus him.

Mariners pitcher Aaron Harang hasn’t been very effective in 2013: he has a 5-9 record and a 4.89 ERA. He’s been particularly brutal on the road, where he’s 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA. Harang has a good overall history against Orioles hitters (.177 batting average against), but many of those at-bats came earlier in Harang’s career when he was more effective. Pick the Orioles, on at 1.57, to win.

The Boston Red Sox will hope that a home game featuring Jon Lester pitching will spell victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lester hasn’t had a great season, but there are two positive factors in this match-up. The first is that Lester is coming into form. He has thrown three straight quality starts (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) and tossed seven scoreless innings in his last appearance, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. The second key element: while Lester’s overall ERA is 4.27, he’s been much better at home (4-0 with a 2.95 ERA). Lester isn’t the only Red Sox player who has thrived in Boston. The club as a whole owns a winning percentage around .650 at Fenway Park and owns a healthy .282 batting average there (compared to .262 on the road).

Arizona send Randall Delgado to the pitcher’s mound. Delgado has been excellent this year, but he probably has nightmares about his one previous start at Fenway. That came last year, when he lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs (27.00 ERA). With those memories fresh, expect the Red Sox to prevail. They can be backed at 1.55.