Expect a pitcher-dominated contest when the Boston Red Sox host the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
Mariners’ starter Felix Hernandez is one of baseball’s best in recent years and this season has been no different (8-4 with a 2.69 ERA). Boston is baseball’s best hitting team, but Hernandez has held the club’s hitters to a relatively benign .252 batting average lifetime.
Boston pitcher Jon Lester has struggled through most of this season, but there are a few of factors that suggest he’ll pitch well here. The first is an intangible – he’s from the state of Washington and will undoubtedly have a large contingent of family and friends to motivate him.
The second is more substantive – he has the momentum of coming off an excellent start. In Lester’s last outing, he went seven innings, giving up one run, six hits and one walk while striking out five against the San Diego Padres. Finally, the Mariners are the worst run scoring team in the American League so Lester shouldn’t be tremendously challenged.
One final point: The cumulative score in this game will also be depressed by the venue. While the outfield dimensions were altered to make Safeco Field more hitter friendly this season, it still ranks twenty-second out of thirty teams in runs scored per game, according to ESPN’s Ball Park Factors. Go for under 7 runs at 1.78.
Max Scherzer’s tour of tremendous success will roll into Cleveland as his Detroit Tigers will have success against the Indians.
Scherzer has already begun building a historic season. His 13-0 record marks the first time a Major League pitcher has won that many starts without a loss to begin a season since 1986. While he’s been unbeatable, he’s pitched his best on the road where he’s registered a 2.16 ERA (compared to a 4.01 ERA at home).
He’s already beaten the Indians twice this year. In their last clash on May 21 (in Cleveland) he threw a gem, going eight innings while allowing just two hits and one run. He struck out seven batters. Not surprisingly, Indians hitters have a combined .194 lifetime batting average in 198 plate appearances. Scott Kazmir gets the pitching call for Cleveland.
Kazmir has a 4.86 ERA and has notched a quality start (six innings-plus pitched; three runs or less allowed) in only two of his past six starts. He won’t get a respite against Detroit’s lineup. Its batters have a combined .344 career batting average against Kazmir in 103 plate appearances.
Best bet: Pick the Tigers at 1.58.