The Houston Astros will look to take the series win tonight in Oakland against the Athletics. The Astros took game one of the three-game series last night 6-3. Evan Gattis led the way for Houston with a home run and five RBIs, and Lance McCullers pitched seven strong innings of work. The Astros have won six straight games. Oakland was coming off of a series win against the Kansas City Royals before dropping game one last night and have managed to stay above .500 on the season.
Starting for the Astros tonight is Gerrit Cole (7-1 2.16 ERA), and for the A’s it is Paul Blackburn (1-0 1.50 ERA). The Astros are -210 favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM PST from Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
The Houston Astros are in the middle of a dogfight right now for the American League West Division lead. Many expected the Astros to run away with the division, but entering play today, they are in second place. Houston trails the upstart Seattle Mariners for the AL West lead by half of a game. The Astros seem hell-bent on getting back into first place, as they have not lost a game since the Mariners overtook them for the top spot. But, unfortunately for the Astros, the Mariners have matched them win for win, and they still trail Seattle.
The Astros are as well rounded of a team as any team in the major leagues. They have an elite lineup and borderline unbelievable starting pitching. The only real weakness for this team is the bullpen. Their closer, Ken Giles, is not to be trusted when a game is on the line. One guy that can certainly be trusted is tonight’s starter, Gerrit Cole.
Cole has been lights out in his short stint so far in the American League with Houston. Cole is 7-1 and has an ERA of just 2.17. That ERA is good for third in the American League, ahead of guys like Chris Sale and Luis Severino. The most remarkable thing about Cole this season is how often his team wins when he pitches. The Astros are 11-2 in games where Cole starts. He has been a guy that they can count on to get them a win every fifth day. And it hasn’t been just that they win, it is how they win. The Astros have won by two runs or more in nine of those eleven wins. These games just haven’t been close. The Astros have covered the run line in his last eight wins.
Starting tonight for the A’s is Paul Blackburn. The second-year guy is making just his second start of the season for Oakland. His first start went very well as he pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Kansas City Royals and picked up the win. But it is hard to trust that start too much as the Royals have been putrid this season. Blackburn will have his hands full tonight trying to deal with this murderer’s row the Astros are using.
This is a blowout type of game. Cole has pitched against the A’s twice this season and walked away with his team winning both times. And both times they won by multiple runs. The Astros are on fire right now, and I see a lot of wins in their near future. If you peer ahead a little bit to the upcoming scheduled for Houston, they are very likely to about to go on a big run.
They have series upcoming against the Kansas City Royals twice, the Tampa Bay Rays twice, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago White Sox, and the Detroit Tigers. For the next month, the only team that Houston will be playing that has a winning record is this Oakland Athletics team that is a scant one game above .500 entering play tonight. This team is playing very well at the moment, and they have a lot of runway ahead of them. I would be shocked that if by the All-Star break they aren’t back in a comfortable lead in the AL West.
I think Houston wins tonight, and easily, and has no problem covering the run line. This is the first time all year long that I have taken a run line and still laid wood on a game. Generally, if I take a run line I am doing it to get a big dog money payout. But so much of this game points to the fact that Houston will win this game by multiple runs that I am willing to go a bit out on a limb and make a bet that I normally wouldn’t touch. Give me the Houston Astros laying a run and a half tonight in Oakland at -140.