The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox collide for Game 3 of their MLB series today (7pm ET Sunday).
After winning the first two games of this three-game series, the Tampa Bay Rays suddenly find themselves in the driver’s seat in the AL East. It is a spot they haven’t been in for quite some time. The Boston Red Sox have had a stranglehold over the division for much of the season but after dropping two-in-a-row to Tampa, that position has changed with the Ray’s overtaking their divisional rivals.
It is a crucial game three as baseball enters its second to last full month of the season. Both the Rays and Red Sox have aspirations on winning the AL East and beyond that, a World Series. Both are extremely qualified to do so and have contender status at this point in the season. This game is big and should serve as an indicator of what to expect in the stretch run of the season.
Series Recap (TB 2 BOS 0)
When the Tampa Bay Rays lost their series against the New York Yankees earlier this week, it was their first series loss in nearly a month. In that span, the Rays have looked fantastic, slowly plugging away at the lead the Red Sox held in the AL East. Boston faced an incredibly tough schedule, having only played AL East opponents since the season resumed post-All Star break in mid-July. To the Red Sox credit, they played well over this last stretch but not as well as the Rays. After splitting a series with the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston found themselves confronting their biggest series of the season as they headed on the road to Tampa Bay.
Game one saw the Rays get after Red Sox starter Martin Perez early and often. Tampa started the scoring with a two-run Yandy Diaz home run in the first and dropped another two runs on the board in the third courtesy of a Wander Franco double. While ultimately, these four runs were enough to win the game, the Red Sox did try to battle back, scoring two of their own runs in the top half of the fourth. Perez and the Boston pen couldn’t execute a shut down inning as the Rays benefited from a pair of home runs off the bats of Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena. The Red Sox scored again to open up the fifth but ultimately, they were only able to get within three runs. The Rays scored their final run in the bottom of the fifth to win the game by a final of 7-3.
Looking for his 10th win of the season, the Red Sox sent Nathan Eovaldi to the mound against Ryan Yarbrough. Both pitchers struggled out of the gate however as Yarbrough gave up three runs to the Red Sox before Eovaldi returned the favor thanks to a two-run Ji Man Choi home run for the Rays. The Rays tied the game in the third however, before taking the lead in the fourth courtesy of a two-run home run from Francisco Mejia. The seesaw teetered back Boston’s way in the top of the fifth as the Red Sox tied the game thanks to their own two-run home run off the bat of Bobby Dalbec. After that though, it was all Rays as Tampa scored one run in the sixth and three in the eighth to all but put the game away. Especially as they turned to one of the league’s best closers in Andrew Kittridge, to wrap things up. This gave the Rays a 9-5 win but more than that, it gave them the AL East lead for the first time in several months.
Probable Pitchers (TB Shane McClanahan vs BOS Nick Pivetta)
This series, the games have been won at the plate as both teams’ starting pitching has been a little shaky. The two will hope to change that around today when they send Nick Pivetta and Shane McClanahan to the mound. Both Pivetta and McClanahan have had up-and-down seasons in 2021. Pivetta in particular as he has ridden his share of highs and more recently lows. The 28-year-old righty is an impressive 8-4 but has a 4.51 ERA thanks to a poor June and July. In four of Pivetta’s last five starts, he has given up at least four runs including one six-run outing to end June. Pivetta’s command has been off and his fastball velocity has dropped a few ticks. Boston will have to get the righty back to his early season form as this divisional race comes down to the wire.
The 24-year-old McClanahan has been mired in a similar stretch of tough outings, though his results haven’t been quite as bad as his opponent. McClanahan opened the season strong but after giving up 13 earned runs in June over 23.1 innings, the young lefty saw his ERA jump considerably. For McClanahan though, July has been a bit of a return to form as he only surrendered eight runs including twice giving up just one run. In addition, McClanahan struck out 23 in just 20.1 innings pitched. For the Rays, they know they will need McClanahan to be crisp but also to be efficient. McClanahan is not a guy who tends to pitch late into games, with just three outings of six innings. He has yet to pitch out of the sixth this year.
Betting Predictions & Picks for this Preview
Both the Rays and Red Sox are talented teams, who are more than capable of winning the East. While today’s game is important, it won’t be make-or-break as these teams will face each other again this year. This game could well set a tone, especially given how strong both teams have played all year. With their offense seemingly humming right now behind rookie sensation Wander Franco and the surging Randy Arozarena, postseason hero from last year, the Rays look primed to win the division. That all starts with a win today and sweep of the Red Sox.
These are our betting picks and predictions for this MLB Game 3 preview:
- Take Tampa to win -1.5 on the spread @ best odds of +119 with BetOnline.
- As for the runline, go over 8.5 @ -120, also with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.