Tampa Bay Rays remain among favourites on AL Pennant odds

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Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Austin Meadows, left, and right fielder Avisail Garcia celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings in a baseball game. (Jim McIsaac/AP)

The Tampa Bay Rays were toppled from atop the AL East standings with losses in two of three weekend meetings with the New York Yankees, but that has failed to diminish their position on the American League Pennant odds, where they remain among the favourites at +600 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Winners of 90 games in 2018, the Rays opened the current campaign trailing the favourites as a +1400 wager to claim their first AL Pennant since 2008, but quickly emerged as the early surprise of the season after posting wins in 14 of their first 18 outings.

However, injuries have started to pile up in Tampa Bay, most notably to starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who was enjoying the best start of his young career with six wins in eight starts, and the club has endured struggles with consistency since the calendar turned to May, opening the month on an 8-8 run.

Of additional concern is the Rays’ shaky record so far against AL East opponents. After going a combined 2-4 against the Yankees in two series on back-to-back weekends, the Rays now own a 9-10 record against divisional rivals, and had compiled a middling 12-10 record on home turf through this past weekend.

Tampa Bay’s recent struggles have also failed to bolster their World Series odds, where they now lag at +1300 after briefly flirting with the top of those MLB futures.

While the Rays have come back down to Earth following a hot start, the Houston Astros have soared in recent weeks, posting wins in 14 of 16 games to take a commanding lead atop the AL West standings while vaulting to +150 favourites to claim their second AL pennant in three years.

Battered by injuries in 2018, the Astros have enjoyed relatively good health this season, and have blossomed as a result. The club has tallied six or more runs on nine occasions during their recent 16-game surge. In addition, Houston’s starting rotation has turned in an MLB-best 26 quality starts while maintaining a 3.36 team ERA, second only to the Rays.

The Yankees sit second to Houston with +300 odds to win the AL Pennant, while the Boston Red Sox look to have overcome their early-season swoon and now join the Rays at +600. The Minnesota Twins look poised to end Cleveland’s three-year reign atop the AL Central standings, and sit as a strong +650 wager on those MLB odds to win their first pennant since 1991, while the Indians have slipped to +1500 after opening the season at +600.

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