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TAMPA BAY RAYS (43-41) at KANSAS CITY ROYALS (46-33)
In the second game of a double header, the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Kauffman Stadium.
The Rays have played much of this season in first place of the AL East, but a recent stretch of 11 losses in their last 14 games has knocked them down to third in the division; two games behind the Yankees. They have lost each of their last four series, three of which were against AL East opponents while also being swept over four games against the Cleveland Indians. They nearly took a sweep at the hands of the division leading Yankees in their last time out, but were able to pull out a nice 8-1 win on Sunday behind nine hits and help from New Yorks three errors. Going into Tuesday, 3B Evan Longoria (.277) was riding a four-game hitting streak and has multiple knocks in four of his last 10 outings. The Royals are once again the pacesetters for the central division, but have struggled recently with a 2-5 record since June 29th. After being swept by the Astros, they went back home and split four games with their divisional foes; the Twins. Each of their victories came by way of a 3-2 score and they did so on Sunday when they had just four hits and won on a walk-off double from 1B Eric Hosmer (.278). With another hitless night, 3B Mike Moustakas (.301) has seen his numbers drop recently and is a meager 4-for-36 (.111) with one extra-base hit in the past 10 contests. Tampa Bay seems to get solid pitchers out of nowhere and one of them will be starting this game in the form of RHP Matt Andriese (3-2, 3.24 ERA) as he goes against RHP Edinson Volquez (8-4, 3.48 ERA) of the host team. Before Tuesdays early game, the Rays had compiled a 23-16 road record, but it could prove difficult to improve on that mark against a Kansas City team which is 24-15 at home. The two clubs have seen each other 13 times since the start of the 2013 campaign with the Royals dominating to the tune of a 10-3 record while going 5-1 at home during the stretch. Trends show that Tampa Bay is 11-3 (.786) in July road games over the past two seasons while the Royals are 85-22 (.794) when the money line is +125 to -125 in the same timeframe. The trio of 2B Tim Beckham (Hamstring), OF Desmond Jennings (Knee) and C John Jaso (Wrist) are currently riding the DL as the situations of 3B Mike Moustakas (Personal) and OF Lorenzo Cain (Hamstring) are something to watch leading up to first pitch.
Andriese had a solid yet unspectacular minor league career leading up to the 2015 season, but injuries and a solid performance at triple-A (2.88 ERA in six games) earned him a trip to Tampa Bay. Hes made the most of his time with the team, showing great control (1.5 BB/9) in his 41.2 frames, but has yet to pitch more than six innings in any of his outings. Things could move in the other direction as the season progresses with batters currently hitting a measly .267 BABIP as he shows limited strikeout ability (5.8 K/9) and the propensity to give up the long ball (1.30 HR/9). Andriese should feel great after his last start in which he threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up just one hit with five strikeouts (0 walks) against Boston. He has not seen the Royals in his short career and could benefit from both Moustakas (.301) and Cain (.305) missing the game as they lead the team in average and have 51 combined extra-base hits and a collective 5.2 WAR. On the other side of things, 2B Omar Infante (.231) is having his worst year since 2007 with his lowest ISO (.076) since his sophomore campaign and his highest strikeout rate (15.8percent) since 2007. The Rays bullpen has gone 14-17 with a 3.88 ERA (1.31 WHIP) and are 34-for-42 (81percent) in save chances. Brad Boxberger (2.48 ERA, 20 saves) is currently manning the ninth inning and is 20-for-22 (91percent) in his save opportunities while striking out 45 batters in 32.2 innings.
Volquez has bounced around a bunch since the past five seasons as a member of five different teams with ineffective results until last year. He had an ERA greater than 4.10 in each campaign from 2009-2013 as he struggled immensely from control, but he has dropped his walks down to a career low mark in each of the last two seasons, posting better than a 3.50 ERA each time. His strikeouts have taken a hit (6.9 K/9) compared to his career average of 8.0 K/9, but he has allowed very few homers (0.66 HR/9) as his HR/FBpercent is at a career-low mark of 7.4percent. In his career against Tampa Bay, Volquez has gone 2-0 (2-1 team record) with a 2.66 ERA (1.03 WHIP) and was great (8 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 K) in a victory over them last year. SS Asdrubel Cabrera (3-for-8, 1 HR, 2 RBI), 3B Evan Longoria (3-for-9, 3 RBI) and OF Grady Sizemore (2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI) have had success in limited at-bats against the righty while 1B James Loney (2-for-15, 3 K) has had his issues in the matchup. Kansas City owns the best bullpen in baseball right now and they are 14-5 with a 2.03 ERA (1.03 WHIP), successfully saving 25-of-34 (74percent) games. Greg Holland (2.74 ERA, 16 saves) has one blown save on the year while giving up a mere 12 hits in his 23 innings on the mound.
Giancarlo Stanton playing a dangerous game: believing in the Marlins2014-11-17
And with that out of the way, and Stantons signature soon to dry on a contract that guarantees him this ungodly sum, comes the answer to a question philosophers and paupers alike have asked for eons: Apparently, the price of a soul is $325 million.
What Robert Johnson did with a guitar, Giancarlo Stanton does with a bat, and in order to preserve that in Miami, Jeffrey Loria promised Stanton just shy of what he spent on his entire teams combined payroll for the first eight seasons he owned it. This is a staggering deal, a monumental deal, the sort of deal in years and dollars that fits the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Soxs bailiwick.
Here, instead, are the Miami Marlins, owned by Loria, the man who along with his ex-wifes son, David Samson, weaseled his way into taxpayers building him a brand-new ballpark despite his continuous ability to trade away all the players worth a damn under his control. He has done this again, and again, and again, and this time he swears its different, and maybe it actually is, because Stanton and the advisers that surround him are intelligent, conscientious, forthright people who wouldnt sign just for the years and the dollars.
What that combination can do is make you want to believe the best in people, even people like Loria
and Samson, whose last endeavor into big money ended in a spectacular fire sale that drew Stantons ire. He was the last person they wanted angry: a monster power hitter in a sport with a dearth, a marketer's fantasy with his handsome looks and multiple ethnicities that appeal to a wide swath, a good person and a grand presence and a dream anchor around which to build, if only the Marlins could build something Loria and Samson would keep together longer than a sneeze.
The fine print of the contract remains a secret for now, and perhaps it contains a greater explanation of what took Stanton from vehemently against any sort of extension with the Marlins to offering Loria and Samson his prime. Surely an opt-out clause helps. Ultimately, this may be baseballs version of a football deal: big in years and dollars, far smaller in reality. If Stanton gets an opt-out at 30 years old, say, this would essentially be a five-year contract with an eight-year insurance policy for Stanton.
Giving the Marlins a half-decade to prove Lorias previous decade-plus of ownership was a mirage is generous of Stanton. He couldve waited two years, hit free agency and landed the mother lode then. Only he saw, with one Mike Fiers pitch in September that shattered his face and required surgery, how little is guaranteed, how the baseball gods can smite even the good.
The Marlins did right by Stanton during his recovery, engendering good will before meeting with him and delivering the sort of staggering contract proposal that included a huge chunk of we-know-you-cant-stand-us money. The Marlins tried to wipe away their misdeeds with zeroes. And no matter how principled a man, how stubborn he may be in his opinion, staring at this $325,000,000 at 25 years old forces him to ask the logical follow-up: OK, so what now?
The answer satisfied Stanton. Hes got at least one fail-safe key in an opt-out, and with a 13-year deal and a creative agent, there could be more possibilities for him to abscond more than one opt-out or vesting opt-outs in addition to the no-trade clause that protects the Marlins from straight dumping him? should Loria do Loria.
Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?
Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?
Which he will. Because rare is the 73-year-old man who suddenly looks at what made him stinking rich and does the complete opposite. Unless Jose Fernandez is the rare Scott Boras client who ignores advice to hit free agency, hes gone after the 2018 season which means the Marlins will trade him before that. When hes shipped off, or Christian Yelich, or Marcell Ozuna, or someone else who gets too expensive, how will Stanton react?
We know what Loria and Samson will do: cast blame outward. First their payroll was less than Alex Rodriguezs annual salary because of the lack of a viable stadium. Then when the stadium was built and they lost, they blamed their dumping money on an underachieving team. Its always something with them.
Stanton knows this, and once he dots his I and crosses the pair of Ts, hell be locked in with a clear conscience and deep hope. Hes trusting people who have lied to keep their promises, and its a great risk. Stanton loves Miami and his team, and he believes that with the Marlins power arms and his bat they can win. Beating the Nationals wont be easy. The Mets, too, pose a formidable challenge. And if they want to compete with either, the Marlins must beef up their payroll well past the $100 million mark, because one guy taking up more than a quarter of a teams salary has proven incompatible with winning in modern baseball.
Over the next few years, Stanton will find out whether his trust was well-placed or this truly was a Faustian bargain. Hes about to inherit a title: highest-paid athlete ever. He wants another: World Series champion. The latter ultimately goes back to the Marlins, to Loria and Samson, whose past actions would doom Stantons sobriquets mutually exclusive.
No, you cant turn down $325 million. Giancarlo Stanton will get his money if he wants it, and theres great solace in that, and hell opt out if he wants that, and theres comfort there, too. Ever present will be Jeffrey Loria, the majordomo of the Marlins, paying his hefty price, getting exactly what he wanted, smiling with his devilish grin.
MLB: Monday Night Baseball Betting Outlook2010-05-24
The Boston Red Sox have had their share of problems at Tropicana Field the last two years. The Tampa Bay Rays haven’t had too much trouble this season against Boston - or the rest of the powerful AL East. The surging Rays return home Monday night and look to improve to 5-0 in the season series against the Red Sox when the division rivals begin a three-game set. The game is set for 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2, and Sportsbook.com lists Tampa as a -130 host favorite.
Tampa Bay (32-12, +13.3 units) owns the best record in baseball, aided by a 14-4 mark against AL East opponents. That includes a four-game sweep at Fenway Park from April 16-19, when the Rays outscored the Red Sox 24-9 despite batting .204 and striking out 33 times. Helping Tampa Bay in that series, 16 of its 29 hits went for extra bases. Evan Longoria went 5 for 15 and scored five runs.
The Rays’ success isn’t surprising to the Red Sox, who are 4-14 at Tampa Bay in the regular season since the start of 2008.
“I think coming into this year - and I don’t need to speak for Joe Maddon or anyone on their team - but it looked like they expected to be good,” manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox’s official website. “We saw enough of them this spring where we were thinking they were gonna be good.”
Longoria has tormented Boston (24-21, -2.2), with a .309 batting average and 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 37 career games. The slugger hit .385 with five homers and 16 RBIs to help the Rays win six of nine at home from the Red Sox in 2009.
The Rays are looking for a fifth straight home win after completing a 4-1 road trip with Sunday’s 10-6 win at Houston. Ben Zobrist continues to rebound after hitting .241 in April, homered and had three hits to raise his average this month to .387 with 13 RBIs. “Zobrist doing what he does almost gives them an extra player,” Francona said. “He’s a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions.”
John Jaso and Hank Blalock also homered Sunday as Tampa Bay amassed 15 hits to rally from an early 4-0 deficit.
“You have to do all those different things in order to win as many games as we have,” Maddon said. “The offense definitely picked us up.” Tampa Bay comes into this three-game AL East series 7-1 against teams with winning records.
Boston has won five of six, including an 8-3 win over Roy Halladay in Philadelphia on Sunday, doing their usual damage in interleague play, taking record to 40-21 since 2007.
Kevin Youkilis homered and scored three runs. He’s 8 for 19 with three homers and six RBIs in his last six contests. “He’s a good hitter who doesn’t give at-bats away,” Francona said. “He’s been terrific.”
The Red Sox will start Clay Buchholz (5-3, 3.26 ERA, 1.429 WHIP), who’s posted a 1.88 ERA while winning his last two outings. He yielded two runs in eight innings Wednesday in a 3-2 home victory over Minnesota.
Buchholz gave up four unearned runs over five innings to fall 6-5 to the Rays on April 17, dropping to 2-2 with a 2.01 ERA in five starts against them. However, the Red Sox have won last seven roads starts by Buchholz and Longoria is 2 for 12 versus the right-hander.
Rookie Wade Davis (4-3, 3.35, 1.379) will counter for Tampa Bay after giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 10-6 road win over the New York Yankees - his first victory in three starts. The right-hander has had one good start and one poor outing against Boston, both at Fenway Park. He surrendered eight runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 9-1 loss Sept. 12, but allowed one run over five innings April 16 in a game the Rays won 3-1 in 12.
Sportsbook.com has listed the Rays as -130 money line betting choice for those that follow sports betting closely, with the total Ov9. Tampa Bay is 14-3 when the money line is -100 to -150 this season and is 8-0 UNDER recently at Tropicana Field. Boston is unseemly 8-23 in the role of underdog and is 5-0 OVER in previous Monday night assignments.
This encounter is on ESPN2 beginning at 7:00 Eastern and the Rays are12-1 vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better this season.
StatFox Power Line – Tampa Bay -197