Home run (Safe bet)
Take the Tampa Bay Rays - on at 1.75 - to win on the road against the Boston Red Sox.
I really like Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb in this contest. The right-hander has put together an excellent season (9-8 with a 2.82 ERA) and has remained strong up until the end (he has a 2.05 ERA in his past five starts). Other factors that cut his way: he’s found a way to win on the road (6-2 record) and in his one start against Boston this year, he was close to brilliant, allowing seven hits, one walk and one run, while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Aiding Cobb in his cause is a sluggish Boston batting lineup. In the past two weeks, the team has hit .227 with a .290 on base percentage and a .358 slugging percentage. With sparkplug Dustin Pedroia out for the rest of the season, the club isn’t showing a ton of fire.
As for the other side of the equation – the Red Sox pitching – don’t expect much from starter Clay Buccholz. The former All-Star is in the midst of a terrible season as evidenced by his 5.29 ERA. Pitching at home is a particularly bad situation for him. In twelve starts at Fenway Park, Buccholz has a 6.78 ERA.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Los Angeles, look for the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants to combine for fewer than 6 runs at 1.91
This game is highlighted by a top-shelf pitching match-up. Both Madison Bumgarner (Giants) and Zack Greinke (Dodgers) will be in their elements in this contest. Bumgarner has been excellent on the road all season (11-3 with a 2.05 ERA). More to the point here, he’s been particularly sharp at Dodger Stadium, where he’s 2-0 and owns a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings this season.
Greinke will be equally pleased to be throwing at his home ballpark. In thirteen opportunities there, he’s 82 with a 2.63 ERA. That he gets to throw against the Giants is a definite bonus. He’s faced San Francisco four times in 2014 and he’s 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those games (that spans 26 innings pitched).
While something has got to give here (both pitchers are undefeated this year at Dodger Stadium), don’t expect either to give in easily. It should be a good pitching showdown.