Interleague matchups continue in major league baseball and one intriguing series has the Tampa Bay Rays visiting the Washington Nationals. The host Nationals have been in a tailspin of late losing four consecutive games, including a loss to Tampa on Tuesday 5-4. Prior to the four game losing streak, the Nationals had won six straight.
Tonight the Nationals will send their ace Stephen Strasburg to the mound. The last Nationals win, last week was a 6-2 victory over Toronto that was masterfully pitched by Strasburg. On the season, Strasburg is 8-1 with an ERA of 2.45. In his last five trips to the mound, Strasburg is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.79. In those five starts, he has 44 strikeouts and just 8 walks over 29 innings.
The Rays will counter with Chris Archer on the mound. Archer will be making his major league debut tonight for the Rays. The young right-hander was acquired by Tampa in a deal involving eight players that saw Matt Garza a starter sent to the Cubs back in January of 2011. Archer had a record of 4-8 and an ERA of 4.81 at Triple-A Durham in 14 starts.
Tampa has won five straight playing on the road and in those five games is averaging nearly 7 runs per game. Carlos Pena the Rays’ first baseman had two hits on Tuesday for the third straight game and hit his first homer in June.
Washington has had a tough stretch offensively that has helped lead to the four straight losses. Bryce Harper their 19-year old phenom has had only 2 hits in his last 14 plate appearances including striking out six times. Tampa lost Joel Peralta, a reliever in game one on Tuesday when he was ejected for having pine tar on the glove he was wearing.
The line has the Nationals as the favorite -170 with the Rays at +160. The run total is sitting at 7. Smart money takes the Nationals behind the arm of Strasburg to win, with the run total cashing to the OVER.