Minnesota Twins (45-63) vs. Houston Astros (65-42)
The Minnesota Twins take on the Houston Astros in the first of a four-game series starting on Thursday. Minnesota enters this series losing to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, 6-5. Houston takes on the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday evening, but this preview was written prior to the conclusion of that contest.
The Astros are favored at -270 with the odds set for Minnesota at +230. Houston won the most recent contest between these teams, defeating Minnesota 14-3 back on June 13. The Astros are 2-1 this season against the Twins and are 6-4 in the last 10 overall.
Twins Rally Falls ShortA four-run eighth inning pulled Minnesota within one, but they could not get the equalize, as they fell to Cincinnati, 6-5. Jorge Polanco went deep for Minnesota as part of a two-hit, two-run, one RBI performance. Luis Arraez had three hits and walked twice in the contest. The Twins bullpen was solid, allowing one run in four innings of work.
Minnesota is 12th in runs per game at 4.65 and 28th in runs allowed per contest at 5.33. That gives them a -0.69 run differential, 25th overall. The team is 11th in team batting average (.245) and third in home runs per game at 1.44.
Griffin Jax will start for the Twins. Jax is 1-1 with a 6.41 ERA in seven appearances, three of which are starts. The right-hander worked exclusively out of the starting rotation in July, but only made three starts, moving between the big club and AAA St. Paul. In his last start, the right-hander allowed one run in five innings against St. Louis. He has allowed two earned runs in his last nine innings pitched.
Minnesota lost their big bat when Nelson Cruz was dealt to Tampa Bay. Polanco is now the team leader with 18 homers and leads the club with 56 runs driven. The Twins will be without Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Garlick, and Rob Refsnyder.
Astros Blank Dodgers to Open SeriesThe Astros only have a brief two-game series with Los Angeles, but got off to a great start when Lance McCullers held Los Angeles to four hits in 6.2 innings to lead the Astros to a 3-0 victory. McCullers walked three and struck out nine in earning his ninth victory of the season. Ryan Stanek came on to close out the game for his second save of the season. Yordan Alvarez provided all the run support McCullers needed, a two-run homer, his 20th of the season.
Houston is first in runs per game (5.45) and 10th in runs allowed per contest (4.03). The Astros are second in run differential at +1.42. The team is first in batting average (.267) and sixth in home runs per game (1.32).
Houston counters with left-hander Framber Valdez. Valdez is 7-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 12 starts. The lefty had a solid July, going 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in six starts. He has been especially good over his last two starts, allowing two total runs in 11 innings pitched.
The Astros are led by José Altuve with 25 homers. Altuve is hitting .279. Alvarez is the team leader in runs batted in with 69 and has 20 homers, tied for second with Kyle Tucker. Houston will be without Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel.
- 5-12 in their last 17 games on the road.
- 7-18 in their last 25 games as the road underdog.
- 9-19 in their last 28 games against AL West opponents.
- 13-4 and their last 17 games on Thursday.
- 22-6 in their last 28 games at home following a road trip of seven days or more.
- 58-24 in their last 82 games against AL Central teams.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This should be a fairly good pitching matchup, but Houston clearly has the edge. Valdez has been spectacular over his last two starts and has been a key performer for the Astros this season. While Jax has looked good since joining the rotation, he is still getting his feet wet and needs to prove to be consistent. The Astros are not a team you want to do that against.
Both of these teams can hit home runs, but Houston is much better at scoring runs. That is going to be a big difference in this game as the Astros going to victory.
Full-Game Total Pick
Some may see this pitching matchup and believe this game clearly is going over, but I like the under here. Both Jax and Valdez have pitched well of late in these teams have had some low-scoring affairs. In fact, three of the last five games have seen seven or fewer runs scored. These teams have gone under in four of the last five meetings.
I like the under here. Take Houston to win, 5-2.