Major League Baseball’s regular season gets a bonus game Monday as the Tampa Bay Rays travel to Texas to face the Rangers in a tie-breaker game to determine who will earn the American League’s second Wild Card slot.
The Rangers have a number of advantages in this game. For one, home field advantage is a huge factor. Texas won seven straight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to finish the season.
That run of seven in a row has momentum on their side after a start to September that saw the club lose 15 of 19. Not only that, but Texas also played at their stadium on Sunday, which means they can just roll out of their beds for this contest and play. In contrast, the Rays played their final game in Toronto and had to fly down to Texas, check into a hotel, sleep in a foreign bed and then compete in this one.
Texas sends Martin Perez to the pitcher’s mound. Perez is a youngster (this will only be his 26th career Big League start – and certainly his biggest) so he’ll no doubt feel tremendous pressure. Still, he should be comforted by the fact he’s throwing at home (he posted a 3.18 ERA in Texas compared to a 3.84 ERA elsewhere). He also has thrown well recently, registering a 2.84 ERA in his past two starts.
As for Tampa Bay, they truly limped into this contest. They lost two of three in Toronto against the Blue Jays in the season’s final weekend and barely won on Sunday (they prevailed 7-6) to force this additional game.
One big plus is they have the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price, pitching for them. After a shaky start to the season, Price has been very solid in the second half, going 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA.
That said, he hasn’t been quite as sharp in his most recent five starts, going 1-2 with a 3.78 ERA. Equally as troubling for the ace Price is his history against Rangers hitters. In a pretty robust 164-plate appearance sample set, Texas batters own a lifetime batting average of .315 (with a .473 slugging percentage) against Price.
These one-and-gone games tend to be tight, but considering the team’s differing recent success and Price’s lack of dominance against Rangers hitters, look for Texas to prevail at 2.10 and return to the post-season.
Back the Texas Rangers to win at 2.10 against the Tampa Bay Rays
Follow Josh Chetwynd's MLB betting tips every day