It’s a full slate of MLB action this evening with 15 games on the docket. While there are plenty of different directions we can go with tonight’s featured game, our attention is drawn to a stellar pitching matchup between a pair of American League contenders.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be down in Houston for the opener of a three-game set with the Astros. Charlie Morton heads to the hill for the visitors, while Justin Verlander will be on the mound for the hosts. The Rays enter tonight’s tilt having lost their last two, while the Astros are riding a four-game winning streak.
The AL Central-leading Astros have been installed as big favorites for tonight’s affair. The Rays have a lot of ground to make up on the AL East leading New York Yankees, but the team is right in the thick of the Wild Card chase.
It looks like a stellar matchup between two clubs with lots to play for. Let’s take a look at this game in full detail, starting with the way the MLB betting sites see it.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros, 8:10 PM EST, ATSW
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Rays vs. Astros Pick:
Tampa Bay spent the weekend in Baltimore for a four-game set with the Orioles. After taking the first two games by a combined score of 12-3, they dropped the final two by a margin of 15-4. The Rays check in with a record of 3-2 over the last five games.
Houston stands at 4-1 for its last five contests. Over the weekend, the club played host to the Los Angeles Angels for a three-game series. They picked up the sweep, winning the series by a combined score of 21-8. In Sunday’s finale, the team pounded out 12 runs.
The Rays are 9.5 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. They’re tied with the Oakland Athletics for the final AL Wild Card spot. The Astros are in full control of the AL West with a 9-game lead over the Athletics. They’re in a tight race with the Yankees for the best record in the AL.
|Tampa Bay||76-56||L2||5-5||2-AL East||613||521|
This series will wrap up a seven-game road trip for Tampa Bay. They’re 2-2 thus far. In road games for the year, the team is 42-25. They haven’t fared quite as well at home with a mark of 34-31 to date. The club has been hovering around .500 recently with a record of 5-5 for the last 10 games.
Over the last five series, the Rays are 3-1-1. The run differential checks in at +92 on the year, which is tied with the Cleveland Indians for 5th in the AL. After this series, the club will be home for its next 10 games, starting with a three-game set with the Indians.
Houston closes out a 10-game homestand with this set. They’re 6-1 thus far and a solid 7-3 over the last 10 games. At home, the club stands at a stellar 49-16 for the season. The road hasn’t been as kind as the team has a mark of 36-31.
Despite the recent hot run, the Astros are only 3-2 for their last five series. The run differential stands at +197 for the year, which is tops in the AL and 2nd in all of MLB, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston hits the road for five games after this series wraps up, starting with a three-game set in Toronto versus the Blue Jays.
Houston has one of the top offenses in all of MLB and the clear advantage at the plate for this series. Austin Meadows leads the way for Tampa Bay with a .280 BA, 23 homers, and 67 RBIs. Tommy Pham has contributed 19 HRs and 55 ribbies. Michael Brantley leads the Astros with a .338 BA. Alex Bregman is tops with 32 homers, while Yuli Gurriel leads with 91 RBIs.
Morton is in the midst of a stellar campaign. He has picked up the win in five of his last 10 starts. Last time out, he gave up three earned runs over five innings in a no-decision versus the Seattle Mariners. Verlander is also having an excellent season with wins in five of his last 10 outings. For his last start, he took the loss against the Detroit Tigers while allowing two earned runs over nine innings. It was a huge upset, as the Astros were massive favorites entering the contest.
These are two of the best bullpens in MLB. Statistically, they are a near mirror image with the exception of innings pitched, as the Rays have leaned on openers often. Morton has pitched five innings or more for nine of his last 10 appearances. Verlander has hit the five-inning mark in each of his last 10 starts and lasted six innings or more eight times over that span.
This series will mark the final time these two clubs meet in the regular season. Tampa Bay has a 3-1 edge on the season, taking a home series over Houston earlier this year.
As the muted run total of 7.5 suggests, we could be in for a pitching duel. While the Astros are big favorites with Verlander on the hill, Morton hasn’t exactly been shabby this year. We’re looking in the other direction and going with the Rays in an upset.