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First-Inning Betting Guide: Ragans to Play Spoiler at Minute Maid

The penultimate weekend in baseball’s regular season begins Friday night with a host of incredible matchups. Big series begin all over the place with playoff implications, many of which offer up some intriguing first-inning scoring bets. Read on and see if you can find some MLB first inning best parlays to put together.

White Sox at Red Sox

Here we have a pair of footwear-related squads playing out the string in Fenway Park. Check out the MLB betting lines and consider some first-inning action in this Touki Toussaint-Chris Sale matchup.

First-Inning Betting Guide: Ragans to Play Spoiler at Minute Maid
Brennan Bernardino #83 of the Boston Red Sox | Sam hodde/getty images/afp

Sale will be trying to reverse an ugly personal stretch at Fenway Park. The seven-time All-Star has a 6.35 ERA over his last four home starts while failing to get through five innings each time.

The lefty has been mostly solid early in games this year but he is prone to the gopher ball at times; seven of the 14 home runs he’s allowed in 2023 have come in the first two frames. The White Sox aren’t all that much of a challenge in the first inning, but they will be holding bats and swinging. Maybe someone connects and adds to the MLB best bets pile.

A more likely outcome, and the real reason we chose this game, was that of the Red Sox getting some runs on the board in the bottom of the first. They’ll be going up against Touki Toussaint, who has delivered on several yes-RIFI picks this year.

Toussaint simply can’t throw strikes early in games. He’s walked 16 batters in his 14 first innings, which has helped opponents pile up 13 runs, good for an 8.16 ERA. The 27-year-old will be making his debut at Fenway Park, which can often chew up opposing pitchers who aren’t used to its unique environment.

The Red Sox remain first in the AL in first-inning scoring percentage at home (46.1). Leaning on the Boston offense in the first inning against Toussaint is among the best MLB Sept. 22 predictions out there.

First Inning to Score: YES

Royals at Astros

Houston is hoping to take advantage of the lowly Royals this weekend as it battles it out in a three-team race for the AL West crown. The Astros will turn to Framber Valdez in the opener.

Valdez is looking like a guy who is more than ready for October. He’s finished seven innings in each of his last three starts while allowing only four earned runs in that span.

The most recent of those outings was at Kansas City on Sunday, when Valdez let up just an unearned run while scattering six hits in those seven frames. He also posted another scoreless first in that matchup, dropping his ERA in that frame to 1.55.

Kansas City has oddly been a pretty good first-inning offense at home. On the road, it has looked much more like its overall self, scoring just 21.3% of the time, 24th in the majors.

Cole Ragans has been THE story for the Royals over the past couple of months. Acquired from Texas in the Aroldis Chapman move, the former first-round pick has gone 4-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts with Kansas City.

The Astros got to Ragans for five runs in six innings last weekend, but the hard-throwing lefty had a 4-0 lead going into the fifth before it uncharacteristically fell apart. He added another scoreless first in that contest, giving him 10 in as many chances on the season.

Houston is always a challenge in the first inning, but Ragans has been so dominant early in games and can get the better of the Astros again. Consider that when making an MLB bet on this one.

First Inning to Score: NO

Angels at Twins

Minnesota can clinch the Central title with a win at Target Field on Friday night, making this a big evening in Minneapolis. The Twins will try to sew up the division behind Pablo Lopez, who is developing a reputation as a workhorse.

After making 32 starts last year, Lopez will be up to 31 in 2023 when he steps to the mound Friday. Also, he’s already established a career high in innings pitched and should finish just shy of 200.

Lopez’s solid resume has come in spite of some rough openings this year. He has a 5.10 ERA in the first inning, and it’s not a soft 5.10. Opponents are hitting .301 in that opening frame while recording seven of the 23 home runs he’s allowed all season.

The opponents’ OPS of .853 in the first is easily the highest against Lopez in any inning. The Angels are a broken team, but they have some free swingers who have helped the team put up 12 home runs over the last seven games.

This was lined up to be a start for Tyler Anderson on the LA side. As is often the case this time of year with teams that are out of it, a late change was made and instead we get Davis Daniel, who could probably switch his first and last names and nobody would notice.

Daniel has made one appearance in the majors and it resulted in three scoreless innings, but that means little. He gave up two hits, walked three and threw a wild pitch while striking out just one, so it wasn’t exactly clean.

The 26-year-old owns a 5.44 ERA in 27 career games at the Triple-A level, so there aren’t any wild expectations. What we can expect Friday is a good chance at a first-inning run by a Twins team that has the sixth-best home OPS in the majors.

All that said, Minnesota is holding its breath on some physical issues this week.

First Inning to Score: YES


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