Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays Prediction, Odds & Preview -- 7/31/21

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 6:10 p.m. ET

Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

Where to watch: NESN, Bally Sports Sun



Season-to-date

Red Sox: 63-41 (1st place, American League East)

Rays: 61-42 (2nd place, American League East)

Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Tampa Bay -140, Boston +120; O/U 8 at -110

Bet365: Boston -120, Tampa Bay +100

William Hill: Boston -115, Tampa Bay -105

Projected lineups


Red Sox:

Enrique Hernandez (R) 2B

Alex Verdugo (L) LF

Xander Bogaerts (R) SS

J.D. Martinez (R) DH

Hunter Renfroe (R) RF

Christian Vazquez (R) C

Bobby Dalbec (R) 1B

Jarren Duran (L) CF

Jonathan Arauz (S) 3B

Starting Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi (R)


Rays:

Randy Arozarena (R) RF

Nelson Cruz (R) DH

Austin Meadows (L) LF

Yandy Diaz (R) 3B

Wander Franco (S) SS

Brandon Lowe (L) 2B

Manuel Margot (R) CF

Mike Zunino (R) C

Ji-Man Choi (L) 1B

Starting pitcher: Ryan Yarbrough (L)



Recent form:

Red Sox: 7-3 in their last 10 entering Friday

Rays: 6-4 in their last 10 entering Friday

Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays Preview


The Boston Red Sox weren’t prepared to have the New York Yankees have all the trade deadline fun.

While the Yankees were stockpiling middle-of-the-order threats in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, the first-place Red Sox felt they needed one more piece of power added to their lineup.

Kyle Schwarber fits that bill fine.

The Red Sox acquired the All-Star outfielder from the Washington Nationals as part of the inferno sale happening in the nation’s capital. Schwarber, who has 25 home runs this season, is on the injured list (hamstring) so he likely won’t play Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

The first game of the three-game series was on Friday.

Yes, after all the hoopla this week, baseball is to be played and the AL East will come down to the wire between these two. Tampa entered Friday 1.5 games back of Boston for first place.

“Simply put, we think Kyle Schwarber is one of the most impactful hitters that changed hands this week,” said Boston CBO Chaim Bloom. “We already feel we have a really good lineup. Kyle, once he’s healthy, has a chance to be as productive as anybody in the lineup, and we’re really excited for what he’s going to mean beyond what he produces on the field.”

It’s been a tremendous bounce-back season for the Red Sox, just a season after trading Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boston’s resurgence has been thanks to a resurgent offense highlighted by third baseman Rafael Devers and his team-leading 27 homers. The 24-year-old is well on his way to surpassing the 32 he hit in 2019, coupled with a .286 batting average.

Entering Friday, Devers has a hit in all but one game in his past nine, including four multi-hit games.

Boston ace Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound for the Red Sox. His 3.49 ERA is best among Boston’s starters, which tells you who’s carried Boston this season. The Red Sox got much-needed bullpen help by acquiring relievers Hansel Robles and Austin Davis before the deadline buzzer.

The Rays did not make said splash before the deadline. They were reportedly in the running for Kris Bryant before he was shipped to San Francisco, but Tampa Bay is rolling with the group that made the World Series last year.

It might have helped the Rays to get some extra pop in the lineup. It’s an all-power lineup with Brandon Lowe (22 homers) and Austin Meadows (20) hitting below .250. They did move reliever Diego Castillo to Seattle for reliever JT Chargois and Austin Shenton, but nothing earth-shattering compared to their AL East comrades.

With July soon at its end, the Rays’ slugging appears to be what they hope carries them through another pennant race. The Rays ended a three-game losing streak Thursday with a 14-0 win against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees, highlighted by a 10-run sixth inning.

“We kind of fell short the last couple of nights,” said Tampa manager Kevin Cash, “and tonight, the guys made sure that didn’t happen.”

This is in the midst of nine consecutive home games for Tampa Bay. Ryan Yarbrough is expected to be the Rays’ starter.

Trends


The Rays have not been up to task when better teams come to the Trop. They’re 5-8 as a home underdog this season.

Eovaldi is 3-5 in his career with an ERA of 4.53 and a WHIP of 1.269. Tampa’s bats have an opportunity to get to him.

Prediction


It may be another week before the Red Sox flex their muscle. At home in what could be a must-win game for Tampa Bay, I expect the Rays to start creating some momentum. Rays 6, Red Sox 3.

Don't miss our champion handicappers free picks and expert baseball picks today.  And if you enjoyed this Boston Red Sox - Tampa Bay Rays prediction as these two AL heavyweights clash, be sure to drop by every day for our daily MLB odds, projections and previews.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2021 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.