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MLB Bets for Tuesday, May 18: Back the Blue Jays in their AL East Battle vs. Boston

SI Gambling analyst Roy Larking previews Tuesday's MLB betting action and shares the two top picks on his baseball betting card.

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Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

American League East leaders meet when Boston and Toronto begin a three-game series tonight. The Red Sox vs. Blue Jays matchup is scheduled for 7:37 p.m. ET at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla. After splitting a two-game series in Boston, this is the third of 19 meetings. Boston won the first game, 4–2 on April 20, and Toronto posted a 6–3 win in the second contest. The 2020 season series was split 5–5 and eight of those games were played in Boston. High scoring contests were common as 10 or more runs were scored in five games. The Blue Jays are favorites at their home away from home.

Boston (25-17) enters this contest in first place in the tight AL East standings. The Red Sox have a 1.5 game lead on Toronto, Tampa Bay is 2.0 back in third, and New York is 2.5 out in fourth. After getting swept 3–0, during their season opening series at home against Baltimore, Boston posted nine straight wins. The Red Sox have been up and down since then as they are 16–14 over the last 30 games. Boston heads to Florida following a 2–1 series loss to Oakland and 2–1 series win against the L.A. Angels. During an 8–5 recent run, the Sox have outscored opponents by a 79–54 margin.

Toronto (22–17) continues to play home games at their spring training facility in Florida. Following this series, plus a four-game set against Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays will play home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y. Toronto was slow out of the gate as they had a 7–10 record on April 20 and were 4.5 games behind Boston. The Blue Jays have been soaring since then as they are on a 15-7 winning streak. Following a 6–4 run, during a 10-game road trip, Toronto returned home and lost 5–1 to Philadelphia. The Blue Jays rebounded with a 4–0 win on Saturday and a 10–8 win on Sunday.

Both teams are at the top of their pitching rotation. Tonight’s mound matchup is a repeat from the Red Sox 4–2 win in Boston. LHP Eduardo Rodríguez (5–1, 4.15 ERA) gets the start for Boston and LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (3–2, 2.95 ERA) gets the call for Toronto. Rodríguez allowed two runs and three hits, over 6.0 innings, and took the win in the first meeting. Ryu gave up four runs and eight hits, over 5.0 innings, and took the loss. Over their last four starts, Rodríguez has allowed 12 runs over 23.0 innings while Ryu has given up nine runs over 20.2 innings. Bet the run line and back Toronto.

Pick: Toronto Blue Jays -1.5 (+140) run line

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 7:37 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 7:37 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

Worst meets first when Pittsburgh travels to St. Louis to open a three-game National League Central Division series. Game time for the Pirates vs. Cardinals contest is slated for 7:45 p.m. ET at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. This is the fourth of 19 meetings and St. Louis owns a 3–0 series lead. The Cardinals didn’t trail at any point during a three-game sweep in St. Louis. Following 7–3 and 12–5 victories, the Cardinals shutout the Pirates 3–0 during the series finale on May 2. St. Louis won the season series 6–4 last year, but Pittsburgh had a 3–2 edge during five games played at Busch Stadium.

Pittsburgh (17–23) opened the season with low expectations as their win total was 59.5 and they were +6500 underdogs to win the NL Central. By contrast, St. Louis had an 86.5 win total and they were the top favorite to win the division with a +105 moneyline at DraftKings. Following a 1–6 start, Pittsburgh played above expectations during an 11–5 winning streak. Struggling recently, the Pirates are on a 5–12 slide. Pittsburgh heads to St. Louis following a 2–1 series loss to Cincinnati and a 2–2 series split with San Francisco at home. Pittsburgh scores 3.45 runs per game and allow 4.55 runs.

St. Louis (23–18) opened the season with a 12–12 record and trailed Milwaukee by 2.0 games on April 28. Since then, the Cardinals are 11–6 and moved into first in the NL Central standings. They have a 2.0 game lead on the Brewers. St. Louis returns home after a 2–1 series win in Milwaukee and a 3–0 series loss in San Diego. The Cardinals won 6–1 F/11 and 2–0 in Milwaukee and the Brewers avoided a sweep with 4–1 win. The Padres posted 5–4, 13–3 and 5–3 wins during a weekend series sweep at Petco Park. St. Louis averages 4.39 runs on offense and allow 4.08 runs on defense.

This contest features a quality pitching matchup and it’s a rematch of the starters from the Cardinals’ 7–3 win on April 30. RHP JT Brubaker (3–2, 2.58 ERA) gets the start for Pittsburgh and RHP John Gant (2–3, 1.83 ERA) heads to the hill for St. Louis. Brubaker allowed three runs and seven hits, over 5.0 innings, and took the loss in the first game. Gant held the Pirates to one run and three hits, over 5.0 innings, to earn the win. Gant has allowed 27 walks, over 34.1 innings, but the Pirates average just 3.2 walks per game. Expecting a close, low scoring contest – bet the moneyline and back the Cardinals.

Pick: St. Louis Cardinals (-126) moneyline

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 7:45 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 7:45 p.m. ET

2021 MLB Regular Season Betting Record: 24–30 (-4.83 Units)