The Tampa Bay Rays visit the Kansas City Royals for a three-game series beginning Monday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Rays are coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees over the weekend, while Kansas City has won two straight and five of its last six.
The Royals are a surprise occupant of the top spot in the AL Central, with a 1½-game lead over the Cleveland Indians. Kansas City is in the middle of a 10-game homestand but will hit the road for nine straight following this series.
Tampa Bay is 8-8 but that’s good enough for second in the AL East. The Rays come in two games behind first-place Boston but a game ahead of both Toronto and Baltimore in the division standings.
The MLB odds for this contest have the Royals holding a -108 moneyline, while the Rays are at -102. The over/under for runs is 7½.
Up and Down
Tampa Bay Rays had dropped four of five coming into the series with the Yankees, but the Rays left no doubt, winning every game by at least two runs. It’s the kind of play Tampa Bay fans were hoping for after last year’s run to the World Series, but can it continue?
Heading to the mound is left-hander Josh Fleming, making his second start. In the 24-year-old’s season debut, he took a no-decision, going five innings and allowing four hits and one earned run, walking two and striking out two.
Third baseman Joey Wendle has been a hot hitter, with a .340 batting average, three home runs and 11 RBI. Wendle has a two-game home run streak going and was 6-for-12 against the Yankees.
Left fielder Randy Arozarena is batting .246 with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBI so far, but he’s tied for the team lead with 19 strikeouts. In fact, the Rays have five players with at least 18 strikeouts, as they’re tied for second in all of baseball with 165 strikeouts.
Getting It Done
The Kansas City Royals are taking advantage of their schedule, winning lots of games at home against some pretty good teams. On Sunday, it was Salvador Perez’s two-run home run that was the difference in a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays.
Perez leads the Royals with five home runs and is tied for the team lead with 11 RBI. He’s batting .291 with three doubles as well.
Right fielder Whit Merrifield also has 11 RBI while batting a team-best .321. Merrifield has three doubles and three home runs as one of the big hitters in the Royals’ lineup.
Danny Duffy will make his third start, looking to improve to 3-0. The left-hander has gone six innings of each of his first two starts, allowing one earned run for a 0.75 ERA. Duffy has allowed just 10 hits while striking out 11 and walking four.
Royals Keep Winning
Kansas City has the edge on the mound, as Duffy has been nearly untouchable. He has been throwing a lot of pitches — at least 97 in each start — but he’s getting the job done.
Tampa Bay was able to beat the last-place Yankees, but can that translate to success against the Royals? The bats are starting to come around a bit, but they’ll likely have their troubles in this one.
When making your MLB betting picks, take the Royals to win the series opener.