Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#913 Oakland A's 8.5 vs.
#914 Houston Astros -205
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 2:10pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala

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The top two teams in the AL West finish up a series down in the Lone Star State. The Oakland A’s play the final game of a three-game series with the Houston Astros Wednesday afternoon. In the opening game of the series, Houston cruised to a one-sided 11-1 victory on Monday night to draw first blood. The pitching matchup in the middle game of the series Tuesday night saw Mike Fiers take the mound for the A’s against Houston’s Wade Miley. First pitch in the contest from Minute Maid Park was scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.

Oakland A’s Battling in AL Wild Card Race

Oakland’s hangover from a walk-off loss in Minnesota Sunday carried over to Monday as they were drubbed by the Astros in the opener of this set. The A’s entered Tuesday second in the AL West, 7.5 games behind the Astros: they held a one-game edge over Tampa Bay for the second wild card spot. Oakland finished with only two hits in the game as Matt Chapman (run) and Mark Canha (RBI) each doubled in the loss. Homer Bailey (8-7) was rocked as he allowed nine runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts in two-plus innings of work.

Chris Bassitt takes the mound for his 17th start of the year for the A’s in this contest. He comes in 7-4 with a 3.96 ERA, a 1.229 WHIP, 36 walks and 83 strikeouts over 88.2 innings of work this season. Bassitt picked up the win in his last outing, which came on the road against the Twins Friday night. He threw five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in a game the A’s won by a 5-3 score. Bassitt is 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, four walks and 11 strikeouts over 15.1 innings in his last three starts. He is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA, a 1.045 WHIP, seven walks and 15 strikeouts over 22 innings in four career appearances, three starts, against the Astros. Bassitt earned the win in his lone career start at Minute Maid Park, which came with the A’s on July 11, 2018. In that contest, he threw five innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and one strikeout in an 8-3 Oakland win.

Houston Astros Starting to Widen Gap in AL West

Houston reeled off a sixth straight win as they jumped all over the A’s early and cruised to the victory. The Astros entered Tuesday with a 7.5-game advantage in the AL West over the A’s. Houston got homers from Aledmys Diaz (his sixth), Yuli Guerriel (his 19th) and Yordan Alvarez (his 11th) in the victory. The Astros scored four times in the second and seven times in the third to break the game wide open. That was more than enough for Gerrit Cole (11-5), who continued his hot stretch on the mound. He threw seven innings, allowing a run on two hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts.

Justin Verlander takes the hill for his 22nd start of the season as he faces his former team. He comes in 12-4 with a 2.99 ERA, a 0.844 WHIP, 29 walks and 172 strikeouts over 138.2 innings of work on the year. Verlander earned the win in his last start, which came Friday at home against the Rangers. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with one walk and 12 strikeouts in an eventual 4-3 Houston victory. Verlander is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP, three walks and 25 strikeouts over 19 innings in his last three starts. He is 13-6 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 40 walks and 128 strikeouts over 136.2 innings in 21 career starts against the A’s. Verlander is 12-9 with a 2.86 ERA, a 0.898 WHIP, 43 walks and 306 strikeouts over 229.1 innings in 36 career starts at Minute Maid Park.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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These may be the top two teams in the AL West but the gap in talent in the pitching department is noticeable. After all, we saw Bailey get trounced in the opener against Cole and here, Bassitt, a journeyman with seven of his 11 career wins coming this season, faces a likely Hall of Famer in Verlander. While Verlander has given up a league-high 28 homers on the season, he’s allowed only 19 other runs than the guy hitting the long ball. That’s an impressive stat and shows that solo homers are the empty calories of baseball. Houston is rolling right now and that gives them the upper hand in this contest.

Prediction: Houston Astros -1.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Houston has reeled off six straight wins entering Tuesday night as they are almost back to full strength. Carlos Correa expects to be able to return when his stint on the 60-day DL expires Friday. That would leave only Brad Peacock, whose return date is up in the air, as the lone major contributor missing in action for the AL West leaders. Oakland has to get back on track after wilting Sunday and then getting routed on Monday. The A’s have plenty of power, which works against Verlander, who leads the AL in homers allowed. Can Oakland do enough damage with the power game to get the win here?

The under is 5-1 in the Athletics’ last 6 during game 3 of a series, 5-2 in their last 7 vs. a team with a winning record and 8-3 in Bassitt’s last 11 starts during game 3 of a series. Houston has seen the under go 4-1 in their last five overall, 4-1 in their last five on grass, 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning record and 4-1 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record. Given the way Verlander has pitched this season, they might not need much in the way of offense: this one ends up under the total.

Prediction: Under 8.5

First Five Innings Side Pick

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Houston has the ability to put up crooked numbers at a moment’s notice, which is a major reason why they have had success all season long. The Astros are seventh in the majors with 5.25 runs per game while the A’s are 10th with 5.17 runs per contest. Houston’s big advantage comes on the mound as they are third in the majors with a 3.83 ERA compared to the A’s ranking eighth with a 4.06 team ERA mark. Verlander shuts down the A’s and that gives them the upper hand in this contest after five innings.

Prediction: Houston Astros

First Five Innings Total Bet

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Verlander doesn’t have an ERA worse than 3.86 in the first five innings of games this season though he has given up 14 homers in the first three innings. If he keeps the ball in the park, it’s extremely tough to put runs on the board against him, as evidenced by the fact that opposing hitters have a .162 average with runners in scoring position. That number drops to .114 with runners in scoring position with two outs. Bassitt has been pretty strong early on in his outings: if he avoids a letdown in the fourth and fifth innings, this one ends up under the number.

Prediction: Under

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.