The Boston Red Sox (92-70) will take on the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays (100-62) tonight in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The Red Sox are coming off a convincing 6-2 victory over the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game — their fourth win in a row. They’ll look to stay hot with Eduardo Rodriguez on the bump, although nobody’s sure what to expect from him after he posted the worst ERA (4.74) and WHIP (1.39) of his career this year.
Tampa Bay will counter Boston’s lefty with one of their own in rookie Shane McClanahan, who was much more consistent than Rodriguez this year. The Rays are also well-rested after getting three days off before the series.
Which AL East team will come out on top in Game 1? Let’s explore some Red Sox vs Rays predictions and best bets. Please note that all ALDS Game 1 odds and lines are current as of 5 PM EST on Thursday, October 7.
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Red Sox vs Rays Game 1 Predictions
Boston and Tampa Bay match up pretty well and know each other inside and out. They faced off 19 times during the regular season with the Rays taking the season series 11 to 8. Tampa Bay only outscored Boston by two runs, however, which speaks to how even this matchup feels.
McClanahan fared well in his three starts against the Red Sox this year with a 2.81 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 16 innings against them. He’ll also benefit from the absence of noted lefty-masher J.D. Martinez (ankle) in his first career MLB postseason start.
Rodriguez struggled against the Rays this year with a 4.71 ERA in four starts. Accordingly, I expect this game to be somewhat high-scoring given Rodriguez’s inconsistency and McClanahan’s inexperience.
I believe this game will come down to which side hits better, as I expect both teams to receive comparable pitching performances. Tampa Bay has a better bullpen, but I like Boston here given their superior splits against left-handed pitching (.759 OPS vs. .743 for the Rays).
Red Sox vs Rays Game 1 Pick: Red Sox 5, Rays 4
- Read our full Red Sox vs Rays ALDS Predictions & Best Bets.
Red Sox vs Rays Game 1 Best Bets
Best Bet: Red Sox Moneyline (+125) at BetMGM
Wager: 1 Unit
While it’s hard to discount Tampa Bay’s regular-season success, I think Boston has what it takes to hang with them, especially in Game 1. McClanahan is an excellent young pitcher, but his inexperience combined with Boston’s success against lefties makes me think the Red Sox will win tonight. Getting them at plus money is even better, making this my MLB bet of the day.
Best Bet: Over 7.5 Total Runs (-120) at BetMGM
Wager: 2 Units
I’m frankly surprised that the total is so low for this game on our MLB gameday odds. Both teams averaged over five runs per game during the regular season, ranking in the top four in total scoring among all MLB teams. Their in-season matchups were especially prolific, as the two clubs combined to average 11.6 total runs per game.
Accordingly, I love this total and would take it up to eight runs for less juice. These offenses are simply too good to bet against, especially on a night where neither starting pitcher is particularly intimidating.
Best Bet: Red Sox +1.5 (-155) at BetMGM
Wager: 1 Unit
While I do expect Boston to win this game, discount Tampa Bay at your own peril. This game should be close and a one-run affair seems likely, which is why I like the Red Sox +1.5 for a little juice on top.
Playoff games always seem to go back and forth, and a higher percentage of games are decided by a single run in the postseason’s lower run-scoring environment. Bet this all the way up to -170.