Top MLB Match-up Features Tampa Bay Rays Hosting New York Mets

The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays get set to break ground on Game 2 of their Interleague series together, with game time set to take place at 7:10 PM ET from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. After getting fully trounced in the series opener last night by a score of 11-2, the Rays will look to bounce back in the second game of the 3-game set with the visiting Mets, banking on the ace in their pitching rotation to hopefully reign in the surprising firepower exhibited yesterday by the New York Mets’ batting order.

In order for the Rays to bounce back in this series, they’ll need to put a stopper on the magic that has been brewed up by the Mets’ own staff ace R.A. Dickey this year, who has been simply superb at a 9-1 record with a miserly 2.44 ERA. Dickey will be gunning for a Major League-leading 10th win on the season, to cap off one of the most impressive runs of form we’ve seen in years. Since April 18th, the last and only loss suffered by Dickey this season, he’s gone 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 9 starts. What even more impressive coming into tonight’s match-up, is that he’s also thrown 24 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, and could be chasing history tonight if he can make it through 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run (the Mets’ all-time record for straight scoreless innings is 31 2/3, set in 1973). While expectations might be a little too high to assume Dickey will reach that mark this evening, especially against a determined Tampa Bay squad that was straight up embarrassed last night at home in the series opener, expect Dickey to continue on his strong form, considering he’ll be facing his toughest pitching duel in the last month tonight against the Rays.

Standing in Dickey’s way this evening will be David Price, who without question has been the pitching rock of the Tampa Bay rotation. Continuing to improve with every outing, Price’s record has gone to 8-3, while his ERA has dipped down to 2.40 after an impeccable run of recent form. While he hasn’t been completely perfect like Dickey, Price has allowed 1 run or less in 4 straight outings, giving up a total of just 3 runs in his last 25 1/3 innings of work. Mind you, those efforts have been coming against the likes of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves, all of whom are either well over .500 ball or at least have very capable batting orders. David Price has also been on fire at home over the past few months, winning 4 out of his last 5 starts at Tropicana Field while posting an absurd 0.96 ERA in the process. It will be an interesting challenge to see if he can subdue the recent uptick in form from the New York Mets’ batting order, who just produced their highest run total of the season in Game 1 of this series, knocking out 14 hits in the process behind surprisingly strong efforts from rookie Jordany Valdespin (2-for-5, 4 RBIs) and Ike Davis (2-for-4, 3 RBI). Though there was a huge resurgence in offense for the Mets, in general New York has been struggling at the plate recently, batting just .199 prior to last night’s slugfest, while losing 6 of 7 games. If there is one pitcher who could put the Mets back in their batting woes once more, it might just be David Price of the Rays.

With offense looking to be hard to come by with such amazing talent on the mound in this match-up, there are a few key players that could be the difference makers in Game 2 of this Interleague series tonight. For Tampa Bay, Matt Joyce (.293, 11 homers, 31 RBI) will be the go-to batsmen that would certainly help his team out with another big night at the plate. Joyce was 3-for-4 last night and has hits in 4 of his last 5 games to raise his batting average up 8 points in the past week. While he’s only faced R.A. Dickey 4 times, he’s 1-for-4 with a 2-run home run to his credit. B.J. Upton is the second Rays hitter who could provide a boost tonight. Upton has been on a solid tear over the past few weeks, with an 8-game hitting streak heading into today’s match-up. He has 4 multi-hit games over that span as well. Hitting just ahead of Matt Joyce in the order tonight, if he can get himself on base and get into scoring position, this duo might just have the best chance at unhinging R.A. Dickey’s flawless run over his past 3 starts. One other possible factor for the Tampa Bay Rays is Ben Zobrist, who is making a return to his All-Star caliber of form, but is still questionable for tonight’s start with a bruised right hand. He sat out last night’s opener against the Mets, but if he plays, he could be an immediate factor. Zobrist has had three straight multi-hit games including going 3-for-3 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs against the Miami Marlins on Saturday, so watch for his status as game-time approaches.

In the Mets’ corners, getting more surprise performances from the lesser-known ranks of the New York order would certainly be a huge boost, but more importantly it’s the Mets’ key hitters that really need to step up against David Price tonight, who will likely be going deep into this game based on his recent performances. What could be a problem for the Mets, is that this is the first time they’ll be facing the Tampa Ace, who’s only been seen by Jason Bay, currently on a 4-game hitless streak and batting horribly at .182 on the season. Though he’s coming off 1 ½ months on the disabled list and is not 100 percent yet, Bay, who is 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and 3 runs batted in against Price in his career, couldn’t choose a better time to get out of his slump than tonight. With Bay not in top form though, the usual Mets’ suspects have to stand up, starting with David Price, who continues to be excellent at the plate batting .352 on the season with 8 home runs and 34 RBIs. Though his batting average has fallen 17 points over the past 10 days, he still has hits in 7 of the last 8 games over that stretch, and has scored a run in 6 of the past 8 contests. In a low-scoring game like this one figures to be tonight, Wright must be on the base path, and has enough speed to put himself in scoring position by force. One run could be all the difference in the world tonight, and Wright would be an excellent candidate to get it for the Mets. One other key batsmen to look out for tonight is Lucas Duda, who is starting to take off in form at the plate. With a 5-game hitting streak, and hits in 9 of his last 10 games, Duda could provide the power in the order for the Mets, to add to his 10 homers and 37 RBI on the season. One big blast from this guy could very well give R.A. Dickey enough cushion to reach the mark as the first 10-game winner in the Major Leagues this season.

Betting Lines for the New York Mets vs. Tampa Bay Rays at TopBet Sportsbook.

At home tonight looking to bounce back behind David Price, the Tampa Bay Rays enter Game 2 as -150 favorites to win straight up on the money line. R.A. Dickey and the Mets, despite the recent tear Dickey is on and the improved bats of the New York hitters showing up last night, stand as +135 underdogs. If you are pushing for a continuation of a great streak of pitching, this may be an excellent time to jump on the Mets as underdogs, but be wary of the Mets’ recent hitting struggles of late, and a very possible return to slumping run production in the face of David Price.

Against the spread for tonight’s game, we find the Rays needing to cover 1 ½ runs at +140 odds, while the Mets get +1 ½ runs of cushion at -160 odds. This game should come down to the wire in a very low-scoring affair, especially considering the small amount of times each pitcher has been seen by the opposing team (just 46 at-bats for the Rays’ hitters against Dickey, just 5 for the Mets vs. Price).

For the total points line in tonight’s match-up, 7 runs are on the table, propped up perhaps by last night’s Mets slugfest. Though 7 runs isn’t much to work with for a normal MLB over/under, with two of the hottest pitchers in the league squaring off, it’s extremely tempting to take the under wager on total points, even with -120 odds going on that bet. With Price near perfect at home over his last 4 starts, and Dickey just about flawless in his last 4 outings as well, don’t expect runs to come often here, unless they get compiled after the two aces step away from the mound after 7 innings of work.

Tonight’s pitching duel should be well-worth a look at for online sports betting at one of the top reviewed sportsbooks found at CR, so make sure to do the most research you can before the game gets underway, and pick your best bets for what is certain to be a very intriguing match-up with two of the league’s elite pitchers facing off in Florida this evening.

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