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The Pittsburgh Pirates will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the final game of a four-game series. The Pirates are the best team in the National League, and the Rays are the best team in the American League, so this will be the most exciting game today.
As I write this, the Pirates and Rays are yet to play their Wednesday game. The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central with a 20-10 record. However, they only have a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers. A win today would hold that lead. On the other side, the Rays have a 23-6 record and are in first place in the AL East. They have taken the MLB by storm to start the year and have a 3.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Pirates were not expected to do well to start the season but have defied all odds and come out hot. Their lineup is not as good as the Rays’ lineup, but they are still dangerous. Pittsburgh averages over five runs a game and almost four walks. Veteran Andrew McCutchen is seeing a resurgence, left fielder Bryan Reynolds has been electric and leads the team with 23 RBIs, Carlos Santana is seeing the plate well, and Connor Joes has nearly a .400 on-base percentage. There are other hitters I could talk about, but these are the ones worth focusing on.
Vince Velazquez is taking the hill for the Pirates. Velazquez leads the Pirates in wins (4) and ERA (3.06). He is coming off two straight scoreless starts and has not given up a run in 18 innings. He comes into this game with a 4-2 record and a 3.06 ERA. With that being said, this will be Velazquez’s toughest start yet. He has gone up against the Nationals, Reds, Rockies, Cardinals, and White Sox this season (all teams with losing records). Even though he has pitched well in four of those five starts, he will definitely give up a few runs to the Rays.
The Rays have had the hottest lineup in baseball to start the season. They are averaging 6.63 runs per game this year and are seeing tremendous performances from Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, Isaac Paredes, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe, and Luke Raley. Arozarena is one of the best hitters in baseball and has 37 hits and 28 RBIs, Franco has seven stolen bases and 18 RBIs, and Paredes is not the star of this group but has 19 RBIs. I could talk about the other four for days, but to put it simply, they are all power hitters.
Zach Eflin is getting the start for the Rays. Eflin has yet to pitch deep into games but has been reliable when on the mound. He missed a couple of weeks after his second start and has only started four games. More importantly, the Rays have not lost when Eflin has taken the mound. The righty has only given up seven earned runs this year and has a 3.00 ERA. He is yet to face a team as good as the Pirates but will be prepared and can always rely on his offense when he makes mistakes. I do not expect him to throw a shutout, but he will throw five consistent innings.
The Rays’ lineup is the stronger one between these two teams, and they are playing at home, so I expect them to win. Bet on Tampa.
The over/under for this game is placed at eight runs. Unfortunately, I expect eight runs to be scored, so I cannot recommend betting either way.
The Pirates will put up a few runs in this game. Two of those runs will come against Zach Eflin. Eflin is off to a strong start, but he is not perfect. The 29-year-old will be able to pitch around the Pirates’ lineup three times and will make some mistakes. The Pirates will also score one run off the Rays’ bullpen. The Rays’ bullpen is one of the best, but they will probably have to pitch four innings. Somebody will give up a solo home run or a couple of singles that will lead to a run.
The Rays will score three runs off Vince Velazquez and two runs off the Pirates’ bullpen. Tampa’s lineup is full of power, and the Rays are averaging over two home runs a game. If you combine their power with their ability to get on base and wreak havoc on the base path, five runs seems very reasonable.
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Head-to-Head||Tampa Bay Rays|
|Derek Shelton||Head Coach||Kevin Cash|
|20-10 (1st in NL Central)||Standing||24-6 (1st in AL East)|
|Bryan Reynolds (.330)||Batting AVG||Randy Arozarena (.325)|
|Jack Suwinski (6)||Home Runs||Randy Arozarena, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Luke Raley (7)|
|Bryand Reynolds (23)||RBIs||Randy Arozarena (28)|
|Connor Joe (.392)||OBP||Yandy Diaz (.431)|
|Bryan Reynolds (35)||Hits||Randy Arozarena (37)|
|Vince Velazquez (4)||Wins||Shane McClanahan (5)|
|Vince Velazques (3.06)||ERA||Shane McClanahan (2.12)|
|Mitch Keller (40)||Strikeouts||Shane McClanahan (42)|
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What - Pittsburgh Pirates vs Tampa Bay Rays
Where - Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
When - Thursday, May 4, 1:10 PM
How to Watch - MLB Extra Innings, Bally Sports Sun, MLB.TV, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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