Toronto Blue Jays (+143) at Tampa Bay Rays (-158, 7 o/u)
Last night, the league’s best offense, the Toronto Blue Jays (38-34, 15-20 away), finally found some success against the Tampa Bay Rays (40-32, 19-20 home), downing the AL East leaders 8-5. In Game 2 of their series tonight (7:10 PM Eastern), the Rays will send the dominant Chris Archer (8-4, 2.18 ERA) to the mound to try to limit a Jays order that has scored three or fewer runs in six of eight games against Tampa this year.
Archer has been partly to blame for the Jays’ ineffective showing against the Rays; the early Cy Young candidate has gone seven innings in each of his two starts against Toronto, both wins, allowing no earned runs and fanning 18. But both those starts came back in April, and since then the Jays’ offense has roared to the top of the league, currently posting 67 more runs than the league’s second-best offense (the Yankees).
In Toronto’s case, all these runs have been necessary as shaky bullpen work has cost the team a number of games. The Jays have blown 12 saves in 22 opportunities for a league worst 45.45-percent. So even if Jose Bautista and company get after Archer, no lead is safe for this team.
Toronto will call upon the knuckle ball of R.A. Dickey (3-6, 4.96 ERA) to counter Archer and hopefully chew up innings; the Jays’ much-maligned pen has worked 11.2 innings over the past two games.
Dickey had one of his best starts of the year last week after his father passed away, tossing 7.1 innings and giving up just three hits and one earned run while striking out seven in a 7-1 win over the Mets. Dickey spent the weekend on the bereavement list but returned to the team Monday.
“Any time you come off and people are glad you pitched, it feels good,” Dickey told the AP. “I really appreciated that.”
Dickey has had an up and down season, but has been solid in June, holding a 2.88 ERA for the month. He might not be able to match Archer, but he should be able to keep the game total low. As for the outcome, great pitching usually tops great hitting, and Archer has won his last five decisions. It’s hard to go against that.
Picks: Rays (-158) and UNDER (7).
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: R.A. Dickey) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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