Tigers vs Rays Series Opener

Tigers vs Rays Series Opener| 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

The Tampa Bay Rays are closing in on an AL East title as well as potentially the top seed throughout the AL playoffs. The Detroit Tigers won’t be a playoff team again but are much-improved as the clubs open a series in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday. The Rays are heavily favored on the MLB odds.

How to Bet Tigers at Rays MLB Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on Detroit?

Detroit took two-of-three games from Tampa Bay in their series last weekend. In 2019, the Tigers went 2-4 against the Rays, including dropping two-of-three games in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay has won the season series each of the last three years the two teams have played.

The Tigers completed a home two-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Brewers on Wednesday, 4-1. Dustin Garneau had a solo homer and sacrifice fly. Derek Hill, who drove in the lone run in Detroit’s 1-0, 11-inning victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday, supplied an RBI triple. Miguel Cabrera added a run-scoring double.

Michael Fulmer struck out four while notching a two-inning save. Fulmer was dominant, picking up 10 whiffs on his 36 pitches. The

velocity on his slider was way up, as he averaged an impressive 93.1 mph with the pitch and topped out at 95.2 mph. It’s the ninth save of the season for Fulmer, which is exactly half as many as team leader Gregory Soto has. Soto was unavailable Wednesday after throwing two innings Tuesday but should be ready here.

Second baseman/shortstop Niko Goodrum got Wednesday off. Goodrum is now slashing a lowly .118/.211/.176 in 12 games since returning from the injured list Sept. 1.

“We’ve played a pretty good brand of baseball for a while,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll have a mishap here or there. … We obviously played pretty well this week and answered some challenges against a really good pitching staff, a couple of games where we had to scratch and claw to get our runs.”

It will be Tyler Alexander on the mound here. After a brief cameo out of the bullpen Sept. 7, Alexander rejoined the rotation last weekend versus Tampa Bay, stepping in for the injured Matthew Boyd on late notice. Alexander pitched well in a no-decision, allowing just one run on five hits over 4 1/3 innings of work. Alexander walked two and struck out four. He now holds a 4.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 71/21 K/BB ratio over 83 2/3 innings on the season.

Why Bet on Tampa Bay?

Tampa Bay remains without stellar rookie shortstop Wander Franco due to a hamstring injury. He to hit off a tee and took part in some pregame on-field activities Wednesday. Based on current developments, Franco has a fighting chance at getting at least a handful of games in before the beginning of the postseason. Franco’s “youth and athleticism” should work to his advantage and spell a return before the end of the regular season.

The Rays lost for the fifth time in seven games Wednesday, 6-3 in Toronto.  All-Star catcher Mike Zunino hit his 30th homer of the year and outfielder Brett Phillips his 12th. The 30 dingers are a career high for Zunino and he is third AL catcher this century (since 2001) to reach 30 HR (while playing the position), joining Minnesota’s Mitch Garver (30) in 2019 and the Yankees’ Jorge Posada (30) in 2003.

Outfielder Austin Meadows got Wednesday off and has a career-high 99 RBI, tied for 7th in the majors. He is 1 RBI shy of becoming the sixth player (11th time) in club history with 100 RBI in a single season and first since Evan Longoria (104) in 2010.

The Rays are 18-21 in 1-run games this season and 6-12 in extra-inning games after going 14-5 and 4-3, respectively, during the shortened season.

They start lefty Dietrich Enns (1-0) in this one. Enns tossed four perfect innings with six strikeouts in last Saturday’s win over the Tigers. Enns was forced to enter at the start of the fifth inning after Chris Archer was lifted due to hip discomfort. The 30-year-old reliever picked up a well-earned win along the way.

Enns became the fourth reliever in franchise history to earn the win with at least four hitless innings, joining Josh Fleming on June 13 vs. BAL, Álex Torres on May 18, 2013 at BAL and Esteban Yan on April 13, 1998 vs. MIN. Enns his only baserunner allowed came on a error in the fifth inning.

It was just Enns’ sixth appearance at the major league level this season. This will be his first start. He went 7-2 with a 2.53 ERA (67.2-IP, 19-ER) in 17 apps (11 starts) at Triple-A before being called up.

Game Trends

  • Tigers are 17-38 in their last 55 Thursday games.
  • Tigers are 9-4 in their last 13 vs. American League East.
  • Rays are 9-3 in their last 12 during game 1 of a series.
  • Rays are 37-14 in their last 51 games as a favorite.
  • Tigers are 1-8 in the last 9 meetings in Tampa Bay.

Expert Prediction

  • Rays 5, Tigers 3
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