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Handicapping First-Inning Scoring, Aug. 16

Rays–Yankees Matchup Highlight Tuesday Slate

We took it on the chin with a 1-2 effort in Monday’s first-inning scoring outlook, but we’re back for another shot at some quick and easy wagers. It’s a full night of action in the majors on Tuesday, and here are some suggestions for some early-scoring chances (or not).

Rays vs Yankees

If you told us in May or June that we’d be sitting here in the middle of August saying the New York Yankees are a shoo-in not to score, we’d wonder what happened. This once-mighty juggernaut is struggling mightily at the dish, having been blanked for two straight games for the first time since 2016.

Going back a bit further, we see that New York Yankees has scored a total of three runs in their last 34 innings. Since a 9-4 win over Seattle on Aug. 8, the Yankees are batting .157 with 65 strikeouts and seven extra-base hits in a six-game span. It doesn’t help that leadoff hitter D.J. LeMahieu, who ranks fifth in the majors on on-base percentage, is out with a toe issue.

Emotions were high during Monday’s 4-0 defeat, which saw New York waste a few good chances to break through.

Jeffrey Springs is more than capable of keeping New York’s bats in the doldrums, at least early on. He limited the Yankees to two runs in six innings in their one encounter and owns a 1.94 ERA over the first three innings of games. 

The Tampa Rays will try to get a jump on Nestor Cortes in the top half of the first. He has rebounded from a little bit of a bumpy stretch to go 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA over his last five outings. The All-Star has a 3.00 mark in his 21 first innings, during which he’s held opponents to a .224 average.

Tampa Bay got to Cortes for a quick score in their last matchup, but it ranks just 20th in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage on the road (22.8). It seems the numbers are lining up for a quick, scoreless first in the Bronx and you can take that advice to the sportsbook when making your MLB picks.

First Inning to Score: NO

Padres vs Marlins

Edward Cabrera gets the start for Miami Marlins in this one and he’ll be a tough test for the improved San Diego lineup. The 24-year-old has been spectacular since returning from injury with two straight scoreless starts, looking very much like a guy that will help anchor the rotation in 2023. 

Cabrera has had just five starts on the year so sample size is limited. He gave up a first-inning run in one of those outings, but he was knocked around a bit early in games, allowing six runs in his seven firsts.

The San Diego Padres were blanked by Miami ace Sandy Alcantara in the series opener Monday night. However, they averaged 5.5 runs over their previous 13 contests with Juan Soto settling in nicely and Manny Machado heating up.

San Diego will be trying to get some early runs on the board for Sean Manaea, who owns a 5.05 ERA on the road and has given up 17 runs (12 earned) in only 7.1 innings over his last two outings away from home. The Marlins are not the most imposing offensive unit out there, but they do have speedster Jon Berti back near the top of the lineup. He had two hits and his 29th steal in Monday’s win.

Manaea has allowed 12 runs in his 21 first innings. If the MLB odds offer a solid payout, consider him letting up another in this one, despite the favorable matchup.

First Inning to Score: YES

Royals vs Twins

The Kansas City Royals are a sneaky good first-inning offense on the road, scoring 29.6 percent of the time, eight-best in the majors. Minnesota is seventh-best overall at 34.2 percent. The MLB lines should reflect this, but we see an opportunity to go against that trend with a bet online in this one.

Sonny Gray gets the nod for the host Twins as he looks to bounce back from a subpar outing at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to that start, the veteran righty had a three-game stretch in which he gave up two total runs in 16 innings.

Gray, who limited the Royals to one run in six frames in their lone encounter, has a 1.59 ERA in the first inning this year. Opponents have a measly .210 slugging percentage against him in that frame.

His opponent on the mound is former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, who threw 6.1 scoreless innings in a win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. It’s been a bit of an uneven campaign for Greinke in his return to Kansas City, but he’s been strong out of the gate in most games, posting a 1.89 ERA in the first inning.

The 38-year-old has posted a scoreless first in each of his two matchups with the MinnesotsTwins this year.

First Inning to Score: NO

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