A streak-buster will result from Monday's prime-time
matchup in Miami
between the Marlins and Red Sox. Both enter this series having been swept over the weekend. ESPN covers the double-Josh clash as Boston's Josh Beckett squares off against Miami's Josh Johnson.
The majority of the outlets monitored by SBRodds.com have
the Red Sox slight favorites with some showing the game a pick. We'll call it Boston -110 for a consensus baseball betting
line with the 7.5 run total a little more expensive for the OVER.
The Marlins and Red Sox are each spiraling downward to begin
the set and a combined 60-60 (-10.2 units) for the year. Boston is two
games below .500 with Miami
two above, not exactly the records we expected to see from teams that were
picked to finish second in their respective divisions. The Red Sox were +225 behind the New York
Yankees (-150) in the AL East while the Marlins were +375 behind the
Philadelphia Phillies (-185) in the NL East.
How bad has it gotten in Boston? The Washington Nationals' franchise had never won a game at Fenway Park
in nine previous tries, yet managed to sweep the Red Sox this past
weekend. That concluded a 1-5 homestand
for Boston who
has dropped six of the last seven to drop back into the division cellar.
The Red Sox now head out on the road for the week, following
this series in Miami
with a trip to Wrigley Field to meet the Chicago Cubs. Injuries have definitely played a key role in
sluggish start, but one has to wonder how long that excuse will keep manager
Bobby Valentine's head off the chopping block.
As bad as things are in Boston,
they're even worse in Miami
where the Marlins are 0-6 to begin this homestand following sweeps by both the
Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Fish were tied for first in the NL East a week ago, but now sit five
games out and in fourth, only the Phillies keeping them out of the basement.
Things haven't gone splendidly for the always controversial
Ozzie Guillen in his first season at the Miami
helm, and as impulsive as owner Jeffrey Loria has been in the past, perhaps
both Guillen and Valentine will be heading back to their ESPN gigs before too
Beckett has strung together five pretty good outings since
his embarrassing performance at Fenway
Park a little more than a
month ago. The righthander has worked at
least seven innings in all five of the assignments to shave his ERA down almost
two full runs to 4.04. Still, Beckett
has lost the last two and the Red Sox are 5-6 with him on the mound in 2012,
which has his backers wading in 2.4 units of red ink.
It will mark the first time that Beckett has pitched against
the club he came up with in 2001 and helped win a World Series title for in
2003. We should not read too much into
the nostalgia factor, however, since it has been seven years since Beckett
pitched for the Miami franchise, not a single player remains from that team and
the new stadium isn't going to bring back any memories for him or any other Red
Likewise, Johnson has turned around early struggles in the
campaign with five quality starts his last six times out, reducing his ERA more
than two full runs. Miami
won all six of his May trips to the bump, but couldn't extend that to seven
straight to begin June last Wednesday at home vs. Atlanta. Johnson pitched into the eighth and allowed just two runs, but Braves
pitching was even better in a 2-1 win as +135 underdogs.
These two clubs will meet again a week from now in Boston, the first time the
Sox and Fish have played home-&-home interleague sets in the same
season. The gang from Beantown owns a 15-9
all-time lead in the series, and will be playing their first games at the new Marlins Park
after winning six of nine at Miami's
Taking a Chance: We can
only speculate how Valentine will fill out his lineup card since he won't have
the luxury of the designated hitter tonight in a National League park. He could plug Adrian Gonzalez into right
field with David Ortiz at first base, like he did when the Sox played in
Philadelphia a few weeks ago, and will then likely give at least one of those
players the night off on Tuesday when Boston faces Miami lefty Mark Buehrle.
The Red Sox have been
a more relaxed (and profitable) team on the road the first 10 weeks, and that
is how I will play this one. My pick is
Beckett and Boston