MLB Monday YRFI/NRFI best bets today 7/25: Guardians score early and often

Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Zach Plesac (34) reacts after throwing a wild pitch that let Chicago White Sox Yoan Moncado (10) score during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field.

One of the shortest-lasting bets you can make in an MLB game is if a run will be scored in the first inning. All it takes is 6 outs to glory, but one swing of the bat can make or break your bet. There is also a lot of value in these bets because the odds are usually very well priced and if you’re not a fan of sweating out your bets for 3 hours, this one will take only about 15 minutes to win or lose. We’ve continued to stay hot with these 1st inning plays, as we’re currently 23-7 in our last 30 picks.

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There are 2 NRFI/YRFI bets I like today, so let’s get right into it.

Boston Red Sox vs Cleveland Guardians: YRFI (-125)

The Red Sox have fallen into a terrible slump with the second half of the season just starting. Boston has lost 9 of its last 10 games and was just swept by the Blue Jays to start the second half of the year. The primary reason for the Red Sox’s misery is their lackluster pitching and their poor start to games. They have allowed a first-inning run in 5 of their last 6 games, but it hasn’t just been a run or two. They’ve allowed 16 first-inning runs in their last 6 games. They now face a Guardians lineup that lights up the scoreboard in the first frame as they rank 7th in first-inning runs per game.

The Cleveland offense ranks 3rd in batting average, 10th in on-base percentage, and 11th in OPS in the first inning this season. Nick Pivetta will be on the mound for the Red Sox who has allowed 9 runs in the first inning in his last 3 starts. He will likely face Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez to open the game. In their careers against Pivetta, Kwan is 1-for-4 (.250), Rosario is 6-for-15 (.400), and Ramirez is 1-for-3 (.333).

Boston has been missing the bats of Trevor Story, Rafael Devers and JD Martinez recently as they are all dealing with injuries, but Martinez is expected to rejoin the lineup today. If so, the top of the Red Sox lineup will likely consist of Jarren Duran, Christian Vazquez, Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. That is a top of an order more than capable of scoring a run since Duran has excellent speed and he is backed up by Boston’s best hitters.

In the last series against the Guardians, Duran stole several bases, so I expect him to be on the move a lot. If he can get to second base with one or no outs, it gives the Red Sox an excellent chance for a first-inning run. Against Zach Plesac in their careers, Duran has never faced him, Vazquez is 1-for-4 (.250) and Martinez is 5-for-8 (.625) including 3 XBHs. Both Pivetta and Plesac have ERAs above 5 in the first inning, and that pattern should continue.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Boston Red Sox vs Cleveland Guardians

San Diego Padres vs Detroit Tigers: NRFI (-120)

Two of the lowest-scoring first-inning teams will open their series tonight. The Padres and Tigers rank 25th and 27th in first-inning runs per game this season while also ranking at the bottom of the league in offensive categories in the first frame. These lineups rank 27th and 28th in OPS in the first inning, and with this pitching matchup, it should be another scoreless first frame.

Sean Manaea has been decent this season with a 4.11 ERA, but he has been at his best in the first inning. Opponents are 10-for-61 (.164) with a 40.9% strikeout rate against the lefty in the first inning. I expect the top of the Detroit order to be Riley Greene, Javier Baez and Harold Castro, and only Baez has faced Manaea of the three. Baez is a minuscule 0-for-2 against Manaea, so it’s a small sample size.

The Tigers rank in the bottom half of baseball in first-inning runs per game at home as well as being one of baseball’s worst teams in the first frame. They rank 21st in batting average and 28th in on-base percentage in the first inning. In their last 9 games, they have scored in the first inning just once, and it seems hard to fathom they will break that pattern against Manaea.

On the mound for the Tigers will be Drew Hutchinson, who is a reliever-turned-starter and although he hasn’t been the best in the starting rotation, recording 3 outs should not be too hard for him to do. The Padres have scored a first-inning run in just 1 of their last 8 games, so I’ll back that trend and take two slow-starting teams to have a scoreless first frame in Detroit.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for San Diego Padres vs Detroit Tigers

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