A pair of teams from the AL West do battle as they open up a weekend series in a crowd with literally hundreds of fans in attendance out in northern California. The Houston Astros are on the road as they make the trip to face the Oakland A’s in the first game of a three-game series Friday night. Houston dropped the rubber game of a three-game set on the road with the Brewers as they were blanked 4-0 Wednesday. Oakland finished up a four-game series with Seattle Thursday night hoping to avoid a sweep as they were dropped 6-1 Wednesday night. The Astros swept the first series between the teams, taking three straight at home May 19-21.
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Astros Seeking to Regroup After Back-to-Back BlankingsHouston had won three straight and 11 of 12 following Monday’s win in Milwaukee only to get blanked in back-to-back games to close their set with the Brewers. The Astros entered Thursday 28-21 on the season and stood second in the AL West, three games behind the Rangers for the division lead. On Wednesday, Houston finished with just four hits with no player having more than one. Alex Bregman had the lone extra-base hit, a double, and the Astros went zero for four with runners in scoring position. Brandon Bielak (1-2) took the loss on the mound as he threw 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Hunter Brown is on the bump for the Astros as he logs his 10th start of the year in this contest. He comes in 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA, a 1.263 WHIP, 17 walks and 56 strikeouts over 50.2 innings of work on the year. Brown didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came at home against the A’s Saturday. He threw six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in a game the Astros went on to win 3-2. In his last three starts, Brown is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP, two walks and 20 strikeouts over 16 innings of work. Brown’s start Sunday against the A’s was his first career outing against them, leaving him with no record, a 1.50 ERA, a 0.833 WHIP, no walks and nine strikeouts over six innings of work. In his 17th career major league appearance and 12th start, Brown pitches at the RingCentral Coliseum for the first time.
Oakland A’s Looking to Spring Rare UpsetOakland dropped their seventh straight and their 10th in the last 11 games as they were upended by the Mariners on the road Wednesday night. The A’s entered Thursday last in the AL West with a 10-41 record and stood 22 games behind the Rangers for the top spot in the division race. In Wednesday’s contest, Oakland finished with seven hits with Aledmys Diaz (RBI) the lone player with two. The A’s went just one for eight with runners in scoring position in the contest. Austin Pruitt started but didn’t factor in the decision as he threw one inning, allowing no runs on two hits with no walks or strikeouts. Ken Waldichuk (1-4) took the loss as he allowed five runs on eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work.
James Kaprielian is on the mound for the A’s as he makes his ninth appearance and sixth start of the season here. He comes in 0-4 with an 8.68 ERA, a 1.857 WHIP, 19 walks and 30 strikeouts over 28 innings of work on the year. Kaprielian took the loss in his last start, which came on the road against the Astros Sunday. He threw five innings, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts in a game the A’s dropped 2-0. In his last three starts, Kaprielian is 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA, a 1.42 WHIP, seven walks and 14 strikeouts over 12.2 innings of action. Kaprielian makes his fourth career appearance and third start against the Astros here. He is 0-1 with a 2.51 ERA, a 1.395 WHIP, nine walks and 14 strikeouts over 14.1 innings of work against them. Kaprielian is 6-10 with a 4.67 ERA, a 1.357 WHIP, 59 walks and 121 strikeouts over 129 innings in 27 career appearances, 24 starts, at the RingCentral Coliseum.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
We’re looking at two teams that have headed in opposite directions, especially in the last couple of weeks. The Astros enter this one winners of 11 of their last 14 games, even with two straight losses. Meanwhile, Oakland had dropped 10 of 11 entering Thursday and had just 10 wins on the season. Houston has dominated recent play between the teams, taking the first three games of this season’s series and nine of the last 10 matchups dating back to 2022. Brown has slotted in nicely as a starting pitcher for the Astros, which was critical seeing the names that no longer are with the organization or who are on the IL at this point. The A’s give up runs by the truckload: the Astros take advantage and earn the win in the opening game of the series.
Full-Game Total Pick
Houston has seen the under post a 25-23-1 mark in their 49 games entering Thursday’s action. The Astros are 17th in the majors by averaging 4.35 runs per game this season: that number slips to 4.33 runs per game on the road. Houston has an average total of 7.92 runs per game this season and the number barely moves on the road as their average road tilt has an average of 7.79 runs per contest. Oakland heads into this action having seen the over post a 28-22-1 mark in their first 51 games of the year. The A’s are 29th in the majors as they put up an average of 3.55 runs per game on the year, though that falls to 3.28 runs per game at home. Oakland is 30th in runs allowed per contest as they have given up 7.14 runs per game this season, giving them an average total of 10.69 runs per game on the year, which falls to an even 10 runs per game at home. Brown keeps the punchless A’s in check and the Astros don’t need a ton of runs themselves: they do just enough to push this over the total.