It’s the middle game of an early week series between a pair of AL West rivals out on the west coast. The Houston Astros play the second game of a three game set with the Oakland A’s Wednesday night. Houston swept a four-game series on the road against the Rangers, capped by an 8-7 win Sunday. Oakland took three of four at home against the Royals over the weekend, including a 3-2 win in the finale Sunday. The pitching matchup for Tuesday’s series opener saw Lance McCullers Jr. take the mound for Houston: he was scheduled to be opposed by Oakland’s Daniel Mengden. First pitch in that contest was scheduled for 10:05 pm ET.
Houston Astros Battling for AL West Lead
Houston reeled off their fifth straight win as they swept the Rangers over the weekend with a controversial victory Sunday. The Astros improved to 42-25 on the year and entered Tuesday half a game behind the Mariners in the AL West race. Yuli Gurriel (run, two RBI) had four hits to lead Houston while Jose Altuve (two runs, RBI) and George Springer (three runs, RBI) each had two. Springer (his 14th) and Gurriel (his second) each homered: Springer scored the winning run on a controversial balk call in the eighth inning. Dallas Keuchel recorded a no-decision as he allowed six runs (five earned) on 13 hits with no walks and three strikeouts over 4.1 innings. Will Harris (2-3) earned the win despite allowing a run on two hits with two strikeouts in his one inning of work. Hector Rondon fanned the side in the ninth for his third save.
Gerrit Cole gets the ball for his 14th start of the season for the Astros in this contest. He is a sparkling 7-1 with a 2.16 ERA, a 0.844 WHIP, 23 walks and 124 strikeouts over 87.2 innings of work this season: he leads the AL in strikeouts. Cole won his second straight start in his last outing, which came Thursday on the road against the Rangers. He threw six innings, allowing a run on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in a 5-2 Houston win. Cole is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, six walks and 23 strikeouts over 20 innings in his last three starts. He makes his fourth career start against the A’s in this contest. Cole is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.017 WHIP, five walks and 25 strikeouts over 19.2 innings of action. He won his lone career start at the O.co Coliseum, which came on May 9. Cole threw six innings, allowing a run on four hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in a 4-1 Houston victory.
Oakland A’s Continuing to Play Better than Expected
Oakland continues to exceed expectations as they won three of four from the Royals over the weekend. The A’s ran their record to 34-32 on the season and entered Tuesday eight games behind the Mariners in the AL West. Oakland had no players with multiple hits in the contest: Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman and Jonathan Lucroy each drove in a run. Chapman hit a solo homer, his 10th of the year, in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie. Sean Manaea recorded a no-decision despite a quality start as he allowed two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Blake Treinen (3-1) earned the win as he threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit.
Paul Blackburn is on the mound as he makes his second start of the season for the A’s here. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.500 WHIP this season. Blackburn picked up the win in his season debut against the Royals Thursday, which marked his first start in the majors since August 22, 2017. He threw six innings, allowing a run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts on 67 pitches as the A’s picked up a 4-1 victory. Blackburn, in his 12th major league start, faces the Astros for the first time in his career. He is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA, a 1.412 WHIP, 11 walks and 20 strikeouts over 34 innings in his six career starts at the O.co Coliseum.
- Astros are 5-0 in their last 5 overall
- Astros are 5-0 in their last 5 games on grass
- Athletics are 1-5 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600
- Athletics are 1-8 in their last 9 vs. American League West
- Athletics are 0-5 in their last 5 Wednesday games
The A’s are playing better than anyone could have reasonably expected at this point because there weren’t many pundits who would have projected them to be two games above .500 at this point. Houston is battling with the Mariners in a surprising clash for first place at this point in time. Cole has been lights out for the Astros in his first season with the team after coming off in the offseason from Pittsburgh. Blackburn was sharp in his season debut but he has his work cut out for him here. Look for Houston to come up with the victory here as Cole spins another gem.
Pick: Houston Astros -160
Houston has been prolific in all facets of the game so far this season as they entered Tuesday third in runs, fifth in team batting average, fourth in on-base percentage and 5th in slugging percentage this season. Meanwhile, the Astros lead the majors in team ERA (2.93), quality starts (45), WHIP (1.06) and opposing batting average (.212) this season. Cole merely strengthened an already deep rotation and he’s proven to be a dominant force in the Houston staff. Oakland is playing worlds better than anyone would have expected as they are above average offensively and in the middle of the pack in most pitching categories. Can the A’s harness some momentum and take down the defending champs?
The over is 7-0-1 in the Astros’ last 8 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15, 5-0 in the second game of their last five series, 5-0 in their last five against teams with a winning record, 6-1-1 in their last eight against a right-handed starter and 5-1-1 in their last seven on the road against a right-handed starter. Oakland has seen the over go 4-1 in Blackburn’s last five starts after a quality start in his last outing. The teams have seen the over go 7-2-1 in their last 10 meetings overall and 6-2 in their last eight meetings in Oakland. Cole will be sharp but it’s hard to project Blackburn after just one start: look for this one to go over the number.