We have a little bit of an AL East vibe with Tuesday’s first-inning scoring suggestions. The best division in the game continues to draw interest and we see some solid opportunities for a few MLB picks.
Royals at Red Sox
In Boston, it felt a lot like the season came to an end over the weekend. Not literally, of course, but the general vibe was of a team careening toward definitive also-ran status as the Red Sox were swept by Toronto – the team they were trying to catch in the wild card race – by a combined margin of 25-8.
The Red Sox had some controversy with one player, saw others make some boneheaded mistakes and watched as a parade of pitchers got knocked around all weekend. There was a big need for a reset button. Enter the Kansas City Royals, who came to Fenway on Monday and helped Boston get back in the win column.
Fenway could be a soggy mess on Tuesday so keep an eye on the MLB news pages for any information on delays or postponements. If it gets off without a hitch, Kutter Crawford will step to the mound for the Red Sox. He spun five scoreless innings his last time out at Seattle and is 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA in his last eight starts.
Crawford’s first innings have been just fine (3.46 ERA, .208 average against). Kansas City is a pretty good first-inning offense at home but below average on the road. The Royals should be held in check early by the 27-year-old.
Boston has been a great yes-RIFI bet at home this year with a first-inning offensive attack to be desired. That hasn’t been the case lately. They scored well over half the time in the first inning at Fenway just a few weeks ago, but that percentage is now down to 47.3. Still very good but they’re beatable in that opening frame against a good pitcher.
That’s where Brady Singer comes in. He’s moved on from his early-season struggles in a dramatic way, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA over his last seven starts. The best of the bunch was five days ago against the New York Mets, whom he held scoreless over eight frames while yielding just three hits.
Singer’s first-inning numbers (5.32 ERA) aren’t anything special. However, so much of that damage came in those horrendous first couple of months. He’s proven to be a strong second-half pitcher the last two years and we like his chances for a solid opening on Tuesday. Take that advice to the sportsbook.
Blue Jays at Guardians
As we mentioned earlier, Toronto had a pretty great weekend at Fenway Park. It continued Monday in Cleveland, where the Blue Jays started that series on the right foot with a 3-1 win.
Trying to slow down the Blue Jays attack will be rookie Tanner Bibee, who hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since June 13. His first-inning ERA is just fine (3.71) and that figure at home (1.96) is even better.
While Toronto is surging in the playoff race it remains in the lower half in terms of first-inning scoring percentage (24.1, tied for 24th). Keep that in mind when looking at the MLB lines. Those doing some MLB live betting should know that the Jays score a lot of runs late in games.
Very quietly, Blue Jays lefty Yusei Kikuchi is putting together his best season in the majors and enters Tuesday with a chance to hit the 10-win mark for the first time. He is coming off back-to-back wins over a pair of first-place squads – Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore – and has a 1.23 ERA over his last four outings.
Kikuchi has been perfectly respectable in the first inning, sporting a 3.27 ERA. Opponents are batting .220 in that frame and the home run ball – so often an issue for the lefty – has been rather rare (just three blasts in 82 at-bats against him in the first).
Cleveland, in last place in the majors in home runs by a mile, isn’t a threat in that department anyway. And who knows if the conciliatory Jose Ramirez will be in the lineup, as his suspension figures to start at some point (he’s appealing).
When doing your bet online, think about a no-RIFI selection for this clash in Cleveland.
Yankees at White Sox
The White Sox are an absolute mess. In the days after the brawl that sent Tim Anderson to the mat (and later to the suspension list), more news came out about a bad clubhouse culture and plenty of in-fighting.
Quietly toiling away amid the chaos is Touki Toussaint, who will be making his seventh start of the year (sixth for Chicago). He’s let up only two runs and eight hits in 15 innings at home for the White Sox, including five scoreless against Cleveland in his last start in Chicago.
The former first-round pick has also been very clean early in games. He’s sporting a 1.42 ERA in the first inning while allowing just two hits in 21 at-bats.
Aaron Judge’s return has yet to spark the Yankees’ offense, which remains somewhat ordinary – at best. Toussaint could have a few easy frames in this one.
Between a long stretch of poor play, dramas involving Domingo German and Anthony Rizzo, and a lame trade deadline, not much has gone right for New York in the past month or so. Clarke Schmidt has been among the few positives as he’s overcome a poor start to the season to become a dependable member of the rotation.
Schmidt has won his last five decisions and owns a 3.20 ERA over his last 13 outings (12 starts). Through all the ups and downs, the first inning has been his best frame (2.86 ERA, 20 strikeouts against four walks).
The White Sox don’t present too much of a challenge offensively. As with Cleveland’s Ramirez, Anderson is appealing his suspension but will be on the pine at some point, perhaps as early as Tuesday night. That could weaken an already weak lineup and make this an even easier selection for those of you doing some online gambling.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.