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Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox prediction and best bet by handicapper Ben Rajavuori for the first of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Best Bet: Bank on This First Inning Action in Tampa Tonight

After a few days off from first-inning bets, our nose is back to the grindstone to produce more winning first-inning bets. Our MLB plays are now 8-6 on the season, and our last NRFI was a loser, so we are in for a nice bounce-back spot tonight.

Rays vs. Red Sox Start Time and Where to Watch

  • Date: April 22, 2022
  • Game Time: 7:10 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: NESN/BSSUN

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Rays vs. Red Sox Total Movement

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Prediction

The Red Sox travel to Tampa Bay tonight to kick off a three-game series against the Rays. Michael Wacha will waste no time meeting his former team, as he is the first to take the mound for the Red Sox in this series and starts against his 2021 teammates. Wacha went the 2021 season with a 5.05 earned run average over 30 games. He's off to a much better start this year with a 0.96 earned run average over his first two starts with a 0.86 WHIP.

One significant change for Wacha has been using his cutter less. In 2021, he threw his cutter a lot more, and opponents were hitting .375 off of it. He's increased the use of his changeup as a result, which was his best pitch in 2021, and hitters only averaged .207 against it. His four-seamer also saw a two mph increase in velocity, which could be because it's still early in the season, but either way, batters are hitting it much less.

Wacha doesn't have the best career numbers in the first inning. He has a 4.18 earned run average in his career in the first inning, but that's over a large 183-inning sample size. That's still less than one run in the first every other start. I am more confident now in his new pitch arsenal and increased pitch velocity. He also just gave up a run in the first in his last start, and I don't think he will go back-to-back starts with a first-inning run allowed.

Corey Kluber gives me much more confidence in this pick. Kluber is a 36-year-old MLB veteran who actually had a no-hitter last season. Kluber gave up one earned run in 16 first innings last year and has yet to give one up this year. Eighteen innings pitched over these two seasons with one earned run. That's all the analysis you need right there, and I'm not fading a pitcher with that first inning dominance lately. The top of the Red Sox order goes as follows against Kluber:

  • Trevor Story: 0-3
  • Rafael Devers: 0-3
  • Xander Bogaerts: 2-17

Tampa Bay has scored a first-inning run in 14% of home games this year. Boston has scored a first-inning run in 23% of their games this year. Combine that with Tropicana Field being a slightly pitcher-friendly park as well, and you have a beautiful NRFI play. Take the first six outs to go cleanly.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Pick

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Article Author


Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.


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