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Red-Hot Blue Jays Need A Win In Tampa

Nelson Cruz leads the Rays attack against the Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays arrived in Tampa as winners of 18 of their previous 22 games. Toronto had all the momentum, but it was Tampa Bay that had rookie Shane Baz making his major-league debut last night. All Baz did was hold the hottest offense in the majors to just two hits and two runs over five innings in his first professional start, as the Rays held on to win 6-4 in the opener of this three-game series.

Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Rays
  • Date/Time: September 21, 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Tropicana Field
  • TV Coverage: SNET, Bally Sports Sun
  • Opening Odds: Rays -125 | O/U 8 (Line History)
  • Blue Jays vs Rays Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The first-place Rays opened as strong favorites for tonight’s game at -125 on the moneyline. However, gamblers haven’t lost faith in the streaking Blue Jays yet and the line is now closer to a pick’em, with Tampa just a slight favorite. Although these are two of the top three highest-scoring teams in baseball, tonight’s total opened up at a modest 8 runs and remains there.

Starting Pitchers Analysis

Toronto rookie Alek Manoah, a first-round pick only two years ago, has pitched like a top-of-the-rotation arm this year. Manoah is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. In his last start on September 13, the big right-hander shut down the Rays in Toronto, allowing just one hit and no runs over eight innings of work.

Tampa counters with young right-hander Drew Rasmussen, who has a 3.00 ERA and 1.15 WHIP through 66 innings and 33 appearances. In his last start on September 14, Rasmussen held the Blue Jays in check, going five scoreless innings and yielding just two hits.

Toronto News & Notes

It has taken an improbable winning streak, but the Blue Jays (18-5 in their last 23 games) are clinging to the second wild-card spot in the AL, just a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees. Toronto has two more games against Tampa and a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins before going head-to-head with the Yankees in a series that could decide the final AL playoff spot.

On September 6, Shohei Ohtani was listed at -6000 to win the AL MVP, representing an implied win probability of 98 percent. Ohtani is still the MVP betting favorite, but it’s two Blue Jays who are now behind him in the AL MVP race.

Since the all-star break, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has 18 home runs, a .382 OBP and was making noise as a possible AL Triple Crown winner. For the year, Guerrero leads the major leagues with a .320 batting average and is tied with Sal Perez for the home run lead with 46. Vlad Jr. is listed at +750 to win the AL MVP.

As Guerrero’s teammate, Marcus Semien doesn’t always get the public attention his incredible 2021 numbers deserve. The 2019 AL MVP candidate has actually hit more home runs than Guerrero since the all-star break (19). Semien is about to become an unrestricted free agent, and with 41 home runs, 97 RBIs and a possible Gold Glove for his work as a second baseman, he is going to get paid this offseason. 

Tampa Bay News & Notes

The Rays are well on their way to winning the AL East Division this year and once again they are doing it with a formula no other team seems capable of replicating. Tampa has the 26th-lowest payroll in the majors and spent $110 million less than the second-place Red Sox, but somehow has a seven-game lead over Boston in the AL East race.

The Rays are doing it with offense this season. Despite the lack of star power in the lineup, Tampa is second in all of baseball with 802 runs, trailing only the Houston Astros (806).

While averaging just over 9,000 fans per game, the Rays seem to love playing at home. They are 14-6 in their last 20 games at Tropicana Field, and are 20 games above .500 on their home turf.

Staff Betting Pick: Rays -110

Toronto is in a battle for a playoff spot and needs a win at this point more than Tampa does. However, the chance to grab one of the best teams in all of baseball while they’re playing at home and only -110 on the moneyline is an opportunity too good to pass up. Take the Rays in this one.

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Shark Bites
  • Tampa Bay is 14-6 SU in its last 20 home games.
  • Toronto is 15-4 SU in its last 19 games.
  • The OVER is 5-1 in Toronto’s last 6 road games.