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MLB First Look: Gilbert Takes on Judge, Yankees

Scorching Reds’ Offense Invades Fenway Park

The coming and going of Memorial Day weekend signals a pretty big checkpoint in Major League Baseball. The American League East has somewhat dominated the MLB news cycle with five teams above .500, so we’ll give the division its due with some AL East teams in each of our first-inning scoring wager recommendations.

Yankees vs Mariners

The second game of a three-game series in Seattle sees New York aim for a fourth straight win. Mariners right-hander Logan Gilbert, who has been knocked around in three previous starts against the Yankees (13 runs in 16⅓ innings), will try his hand against a lineup that piled up 18 hits in Monday’s 10-4 win over Seattle.

MLB First Look: Gilbert Takes on Judge, Yankees
Juan Then #43 of the Seattle Mariners | Steph chambers/getty images/afp

Gilbert has been on a pretty good run, allowing three or fewer runs in his last five starts. He has 29 strikeouts against just three walks over his last four outings. However, Gilbert usually hits a road bump before settling in, giving up 10 runs in his 10 first innings so far.

Four of the six home runs Gilbert has allowed this year came in that opening frame. That’s not a great trend when one of the first few hitters you’ll face is Aaron Judge, who went deep twice on Monday and has 11 homers in his last 15 games.

Opponents are hitting .341 against 26-year-old Gilbert in the first. He clearly has his issues out of the gate, which should be factored into your online gambling. For those of you doing some live betting, know that Gilbert is almost always solid thereafter.

His counterpart, Nestor Cortes, has allowed five runs in his 10 first innings. Opponents have just six hits in those frames, but two have left the yard. It wasn’t his best inning during his All-Star 2022 campaign, either, so it’s no guarantee Nestor will cruise through the first.

Seattle has scored in the first inning in four of its last five games and is ninth in the majors in first-inning scoring percentage at home (40.0). Cortes has allowed three homers and walked four in 11⅔ career innings in T-Mobile Park. It’s a small sample but merely adds to a set of numbers that suggest some early scoring chances.

Reds vs Red Sox

Cincinnati has been on fire at the plate lately. Boston hasn’t, but it is returning home after a nine-game road trip and likely eager to start swinging the bat again at Fenway Park. The Sox rank first in home batting average at .296 and second in OPS at .845.

Trying to reverse that trend will be reclamation project Ben Lively, who hasn’t faced the Red Sox in nearly six years. He has allowed just four runs in 11⅔ innings in two straight starts – his first two starts since early in the 2018 season – but will be challenged on Lansdowne Street.

Consider that Boston’s Alex Verdugo hits 103 points higher at home than he does at home, or that Rafael Devers hits 78 points higher, or that Kike Hernandez hits 98 points higher or that….you get the picture. This team loves it at Fenway, and Lively may just end up hating it.

Boston also leads the majors in first-inning scoring percentage at home, scoring a whopping 57.7% of the time in that frame.

Brayan Bello is on a nice roll on the mound for the Red Sox. When glancing at the MLB lines, we like Boston because of Bello’s presence, but the first inning is no guarantee against the Reds. They scored 25 runs in a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field this weekend and are batting .365 over their last five games.

Cincinnati is also a great first-inning offense at home, scoring 57.1 percent of the time – second only to the Sox. That hasn’t translated to road games (16.0 percent), but this seems like an opportunity to even things out. Consider that when making some MLB picks.

Brewers vs Blue Jays

Here we have first-place Milwaukee and last-place Toronto squaring off with virtually identical records. Such is life in the AL East for the Blue Jays, who are coming off a series win in Minnesota.

Toronto will start this series with lefty Yusei Kikuchi on the mound. After a solid start to the season in which he avoided the home run ball, teams have been piling up the dingers against a guy who once allowed 36 in a season.

A total of six bombs have been hit off Kikuchi over his last three starts. He’s lasted no longer than five innings in that stretch, posting an ERA of 7.90. The 31-year-old from Japan has a 5.40 mark over the first three frames of a game and then a 3.43 ERA over innings 4-6, so he’s clearly a slow starter.

That said, the Brewers simply don’t hit lefties, ranking last in the majors in OPS against southpaws at .616. Kikuchi has been better at home (3.54 ERA), and current Milwaukee hitters are batting a collective .176 against him. This is a good opportunity for him to reverse some trends and start strong.

Milwaukee counters with Adrian Houser, who will be making his fifth start since returning from a hamstring injury. Houser has not allowed a run in 11⅓ innings over the last two outings while giving up just six hits in that span.

The first inning has traditionally been an issue for the Oklahoma native, but he’s been pretty clean in 2023, and will face a Toronto lineup that is 26th in first-inning scoring percentage (24.1) overall and 28th at home (18.9).

If the MLB odds provide a nice payout, consider going against some trends (Kikuchi’s slump, Houser’s career first-inning woes) and embracing some others for a no-RIFI bet online.

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