Tonight, the American League Wildcard Race could be decided (as could the National League Wildcard Race, but yawn), unless both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays have the same outcome, but that’s not what I foresee.
After last night’s victory over the Orioles, the Red Sox have to be a bit drained. Tonight, the BoSox are sending Jon Lester to the hill on short rest – I know it’s a must win game for them, but is this really their best option? Given the state of their pitching, it actually is. Also, Jonathan Papelbon threw over 25 pitches last night and although he had Monday off, he also threw a ton of pitches against he Yankees on Sunday. If they need him, how much does he have left? What about Daniel Bard? He also pitched yesterday. The Red Sox inabilty to keep the lowly Baltimore Orioles off the scoreboard is a problem that is bound to bite them in the butt again and although the Red Sox offense produced last night, it’s hard to have any faith in the team that has posted a 6-19 mark this month.
As for the Rays, they’re sitting pretty. The Rays will send power lefty David Price up against the Yankees starting pitcher To Be Decided – not to mention the fact that most position players not named Alex Rodriguez will probably ride the pine, and I don’t expect the Yankees to use any of their key relievers tonight, including Mariano Rivera, David Robertson or Rafael Soriano. Maybe the Yankees will start one of their kids like Dellin Betances and back him up with the likes of Andrew Brackman and Scott Proctor, although I also expect Phil Hughes to make an appearance out of the pen as that’s the role he’ll have in the playoffs. So yeah, I expect Tampa to beat the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees tonight. I mean the New York Yankees… whatever.
The Red Sox are certainly a better team than the Rays, but everything is against the Red Sox tonight while down in Tampa, every possible situation the Rays could ask for is coming to fruition. If you’re a gambler, put some money on Tampa to win.