The Pirates and Rays square off on Saturday with first pitch set for 1:10 p.m. ET. The game takes place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersberg, Florida and will be available to watch on ESPN+. JT Brubaker (1-7, 4.11 ERA) will start for the Pirates and Corey Kluber (3-4, 3.46 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Rays.
The Pirates went to extra innings for the second consecutive game on Friday against the Rays but couldn’t come away with the win. Pittsburgh batters struck out 17 times in the 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay, while four Pirates pitchers combined for six scoreless and hitless innings from the wild-card chasing Rays. While the Pirates may not be the most feared team at 29-41 and third in their division, they have an opportunity to bounce back against a struggling Tampa Bay squad on Saturday.
The Rays’ 4-3 win on Friday could not have come at a better moment for a team that has been in a funk as of late. Tampa Bay is just 3-7 over their past 10 games following their series-opening win over Pittsburgh and is firmly in a race for a wild card appearance. Much of their overall struggles have been a result of their struggles at the plate, where they are batting just .218 over the past month. A potential series sweep over the Pirates may give this team a much-needed jolt to their record.
Pirates vs. Rays
Odds, picks & predictions
Run Line: Rays -1.5 (+130)
Run total: 7
Moneyline odds: Pirates +145, Rays -170
Moneyline pick: Rays -170
Tampa Bay may be in a funk as of late but the Pirates don’t necessarily present a daunting challenge for opponents, hence the oddsmakers leaning towards the Rays in this one. Pittsburgh has also been ice cold at the plate, ranking second-to-last in batting average and runs. Kluber’s form won’t make offense easy to come by for the Pirates, so I’m leaning with the home favorites in this one.
Player prop pick: JT Brubaker over 5.5 strikeouts (+120)
Brubaker is set up for success on Saturday with Tampa Bay’s bats in a funk. The Rays are 24th in batting average and 26th in runs and entered the weekend having scored three runs or less in six of nine games. The Pirates’ offense may not be promising but Brubaker could be in for an encouraging day in game two of this series.
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