I have rattled off back-to-backs winners thanks to the Blue Jays’ 5-1 win over the Orioles last night.
As expected, J.A. Happ was good for the Jays, allowing one run (zero earned) on just two hits against a weak Orioles’ offense. Happ also walked two and struck out three. It was the fourth time in his last five home starts that he has yielded two or fewer runs while throwing seven innings.
Orioles’ starter Andrew Cashner continued to pitch in plenty of traffic yet again, allowing nine hits and walking a pair of his six innings of work. The Jays got to Cashner for three runs before getting to a pair of Baltimore relievers for one run each.
We will take the win and move onto tonight’s pick between featuring the Astros vs. Rangers from Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Astros have taken the first two games of this four-game set behind strong outings from Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander while their offense is hot, scoring 12 runs over the first two games of the series.
The Rangers have managed just five runs over the two games despite some favorable hitting conditions. Of course, a dominant Astros rotation has a little something to do with that as well.
Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Charlie Morton (2.84 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.08 WHIP) vs. Mike Minor (5.76 ERA< 4.78 FIP, 1.35 WHIP)
After sending their two aces out over the first two games, the resurgent Charlie Morton gets the ball as the Astros eye a series win tonight in Arlington.
Morton was touched up for six earned runs in his last start, however that came against the Red Sox, the league’s best offense against right-handed pitching. Morton has faced the Rangers a couple of times already this season, both times at home, as he’s thrown 13 innings of three-run ball while yielding 10 hits as well. However, in those two starts and 13 innings, Morton has racked up an unbelievable 26 strikeouts. That’s an average of two strikeouts per inning.
Of course, strikeouts are nothing new to this Rangers’ offense. Texas leads all of baseball with 469 strikeouts against right-handed pitching and enter play sporting a 29.5% strikeout clip against righties. The Rangers rank 25th with a team .688 OPS against righties as well.
While the Rangers have struggled against righties, the same cannot be said for the Astros against lefties as they get set to take on southpaw Mike Minor. Houston ranks third in the big leagues with a .789 team OPS against left-handed pitching and their .276 team batting average against them ranks second. They also rank third in hits and second in doubles against southpaws.
Minor had a decent start to his season, however he has struggled as of late. Minor has allowed at least three earned runs in seven straight starts and has allowed more than three in five of those seven outings. He’s faced Houston twice this season, allowing seven runs in eight hits across 9.2 innings.
While his 8.14 ERA on the road is much worse than his 4.11 mark at home, it’s important to note that Minor sports a 5.03 FIP at home compared to a 4.43 mark on the road. Minor is allowing a 1.80 HR/9 mark at home this season, which is not a good omen considering hot, favorable hitting conditions are expected again tonight at Globe Life Park. Minor has also been blasted by right-handed hitters this season to the tune of a .903 OPS against, and it’s possible that Houston could throw nine right-handed bats at him tonight. Having the platoon matchup in every at-bat could mean Houston is in for another explosive night on offense.
I’m going to roll with what the numbers are telling me. Morton has struck out the Rangers at an unbelievable rate this season while Minor has struggled against the Astros. With Houston likely to send at least eight right-handed bats his way tonight, I believe their offense goes off and carries them a large-margin victory again tonight.
The Bets: Astros -1.5 (-130)