Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals (-200, 7)
The Chicago Cubs finally picked up their first win of the season Thursday, just ahead of their first meeting of the year with the rival Cardinals.
Chicago pounded out 13 hits and Matt Garza threw 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball and struck out nine as the Cubs cruised to a 8-0 blowout of Zach Greinke and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cubs supporters would like to think that is the kind of win that could get the team’s season turned around, but tread carefully here.
The new-look Cardinals are 5-2 to start the year despite losing Albert Pujols to the Angels in the offseason.
"What do you mean?" pitcher Adam Wainwright asked reporters when questioned about the lack of marquee names in the lineup. "We don't have Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman? Lance Berkman is a Hall of Famer potentially, Matt Holliday should have won the MVP in '07 and he's a batting champion."
True enough. It doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals are 8-2 against the Cubs with Wainwright on the hill. We’ll stick to the under.
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox (-120, 8.5)
Remember last season when the Red Sox started the year 2-10 before rallying to grab the division lead by May 27? Of course, they blew it down the stretch, but it’s probably too early to get worked up over the team’s 1-5 start.
That said, there are troubling signs. With a loaded batting order, Nick Punto and Ryan Sweeney have been the team’s best hitters to date. Against Toronto ace Ricky Romero, the BoSox managed just three hits.
And then there’s the pitching. Boston owns a 6.40 team ERA with Thursday’s starter, Josh Beckett, contributing to the problem in a big way. Beckett was drilled for seven runs and five dingers in just 4 2/3 innings of work against the Detroit Tigers.
Meanwhile, David Price got out of a couple jams in his first start of the year to come away with a win over the Yankees, allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings.