MLB Playoff Betting – Rangers vs Rays Game 5 Preview & Pick
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Good teams can only stay down for so long and the Tampa Bay Rays are living proof of that rule. After flopping at home to Texas in their first two games of American League Division Series play, they rallied to win two straight in Arlington and force a deciding contest back in Tampa tonight.
The momentum belongs to the Rays – but can they conquer the seemingly unstoppable playoff force known as Cliff Lee?
Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays
Game 5: Tonight, 7:07 p.m. ET
Cliff Lee (1-0, 1.29) vs David Price (0-1, 5.40)
MLB odds: Rangers +107, Rays -117
It’s true that the Tampa bats have awakened. Carlos Pena came up huge with a clutch homer late in Game 3 and it was Evan Longoria’s turn to pace the Rays with a crucial long ball in Game 4. Even if their offense is “back,” however, it doesn’t make the Game 5 matchup easy.
Cliff Lee is still Cliff Lee. He allowed one earned run in seven innings on the road in Game 1, striking out 10 batters. He’s now 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA over six career postseason starts with one homer allowed, six walks and 43 strikeouts in 47.1 innings. Lee has simply shown us nothing to suggest he won’t bring his best stuff to the mound yet again in Game 5.
On the flip side, as good as David Price has been for Tampa all season, he hasn’t remedied his troubles against the Texas Rangers. He carried a 7.45 lifetime regular-season ERA into Game 1 and Texas gave him trouble again. He whiffed eight batters but allowed five runs, four earned, in 6.2 innings. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina took him deep; Vladimir Guerrero stroked an RBI double off him, too. There’s no denying that Texas has a truckload of powerful right-handed hitters who have the lefty Price figured out.
The emotional pick here is Tampa Bay. Sure, the Rays have been the better team all season. Sure, they’ve shown real resolve bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit. And, sure, Price is the ace of their staff, a phenomenal talent, and has the ability to overcome his poor history against Texas.
But that doesn’t change anything about Cliff Lee. Even if Price pitches great, even if his defense is outstanding behind him, even if the Tampa hitters are swelling with confidence, Lee still looks like a great bet to allow one or fewer runs. After all, he’s done it pretty much every time he’s pitched a playoff game in his life. Odds are, he’ll go deep in this game – maybe deep enough that he can bridge directly to Neftali Feliz for the last three or four outs.
As tempting as it is to bet on Tampa, I’m betting on Cliff Lee. If you’ve done so over his other six playoff starts, he’s never let you down.
ALDS Betting Trends:
6 of 10 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL this season . (Over=+1.6 Units)
TAMPA BAY is 89-46 (+29.2 Units) against the money line in home games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
TAMPA BAY is 149-157 (+23.2 Units) against the money line in home games when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1997.
TEXAS is 179-149 (+9.7 Units) against the money line in all games over the last 2 seasons.
TEXAS is 19-11 (+10.2 Units) against the money line as a road underdog of +100 to +125 this season.
TEXAS is 135-102 (+13.8 Units) against the money line in night games over the last 2 seasons.
LEE is 37-24 (+16.0 Units) against the money line in road games after a loss since 1997. (Team’s Record)
LEE is 7-5 when starting against TAMPA BAY with an ERA of 2.76 and a WHIP of 0.997.
PRICE is 0-3 when starting against TEXAS with an ERA of 6.92 and a WHIP of 1.577.
Pick: Rangers +107
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