Boston extended its lead in the AL East while it waited out the rain in Baltimore and watched the Yankees lose a one-run game in Tampa Bay. It most likely would have been an even better night had the rain held off. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and JD Martinez all homered in the first two innings to put Boston up 5–0. Those records will be erased and the two teams will try again another day. Tough luck. Hopefully the guys don’t dwell on what could have been.
Meanwhile, the Twins won a high-scoring finale in Toronto (and helped us cash our over) to complete the sweep after losing their first three games out of the break to the Royals, of all teams. With Cleveland off, Minnesota got to within 7.5 games of first place in the AL Central.
Rick Porcello got hot before the rain washed out Wednesday night and Chris Sale is scheduled to go on Friday, so Boston starts the four-game series with Brian Johnson, opposing Kyle Gibson tonight.
Gibson is no spring chicken. He’s 30 years old and in his sixth big league season, but he has shown tremendous improvement. He’s only 4–7 but his WHIP is good for a workhorse at one-and-a-quarter and his walks have held steady (about 3.5 per nine) while his strikeouts have gone up significantly (from 6.9 per nine in 2017 to 8.9 this year).
One of his seven losses came last month at Target Field against the Red Sox, when he gave up seven hits but just two runs in six innings. That’s the kind of pitcher he is; he’ll give up hits but he does a good job at spreading them out and limiting the significance of them. His 1.25 WHIP is good but the ERA+ of 120 is even better.
Gibson is certainly the stronger of the two starting pitchers listed. Johnson is similar in ways; he limits damage fairly well and is at his best when he’s pitching to contact but he doesn’t have the same ability to come up with strikeouts when he needs them most. He’s better against weaker lineups and not against stronger ones. Minnesota has one of the better lineups going right now, even without Miguel Sano, and as a result, we’re going to have a very competitive game tonight — much more competitive than how the oddsmakers have prognosticated.
I’m playing this one in a few different ways: Minnesota in the first five innings at +130, Minnesota straight-up at +150, and Minnesota with the run-and-a-half at -130. I’m playing them in that order but I am incentivized to win my plays here so I’ll document the one with the best chance to win, which is the Twins on the runline. Good luck tonight.
Play: Minnesota +1.5 (-130)
Boston Red Sox • Brian Johnson • Kyle Gibson • Minnesota Twins