Daily Bet: Rays (-115) at Rangers

Well, I told you the Chargers’ offense would be in big trouble in Minnesota on Friday, what with QB Philip Rivers, No. 1 running back Ryan Mathews, Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates and three-fifths of the offensive line sitting out. And I was right: San Diego failed to reach the end zone, setting for four field goals on the night. Too bad I didn’t factor in the Vikings’ offense being worse; Minnesota managed a single touchdown and field goal, dropping a 12-10 decision, and in the process solidifying a winless preseason for yours truly—winless because I’m not touching any of the meaningless exhibition finales this week. (Suddenly, I’m not all that excited about football being back!)

For tonight, I’m heading to Texas and riding red-hot Rays ace David Price. Not only is Price working on a 17-inning scoreless streak, but in his last four starts, he’s given up a whopping two runs (and 15 hits) in 30 innings of work. The downside? He only has two wins to show for it, as his team dropped a couple of 1-0 decisions. In fact, Tampa is just 2-3 in Price’s last five starts, which is stunning, considering the southpaw has allowed a total of five runs in those five contests. That 2-3 record is the only reason this game is a virtual pick-em game, because Price has been incredible all year. He’s 16-4 with a 2.28 ERA overall, 9-2 with a 2.93 ERA on the road and he’s pitched at least seven innings in 12 consecutive starts and 18 of his last 20 outings. He’s also delivered five straight quality starts against the Rangers, including a 5-2 victory in Texas back in late April when he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Price’s opponent that night was Rangers lefty Derek Holland, who gave up five runs in seven innings. That’s part of a disappointing season for Holland, who is 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA overall, including 4-4 with a 5.43 ERA in 11 home games. And although Holland is 3-2 in six lifetime starts against the Rays, it comes with a hefty 6.49 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. To explain that final stat, Holland has allowed 38 hits (including eight home runs!) and 18 walks in 34 2/3 innings vs. Tampa. Not this, too: the Rays are batting .301 in their last 10 games against left-handed pitching.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Friday’s Result: Vikings -3 1/2 vs. Chargers (Loss)

Record: 37-32