The Oakland Athletics desperately hope for a bounce-back win in Friday’s opener for their three-game weekend series with the Houston Astros. Getting swept in their home building in a four-game meeting with the Seattle Mariners put a serious damper on the A’s playoff hopes. Barring a miracle, their chances are pretty much shot this season. The Astros recently swept the Los Angeles Angels in an effort to keep their stranglehold on the AL West division. Zack Greinke is expected to get the nod to start on the mound for the Astros against A’s right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas.
Can Greinke clean things up?This is the time of the year when teams want their starting pitchers to be peaking. Unfortunately for the Astros, Zack Greinke (4.11 ERA) has been going in the opposite direction after three straight ugly outings. He has lost three of his last four games, and he has allowed an average five-plus runs in his last three straight appearances on the mound.
Houston needs him to be better by October.
A run-in with the A’s gives him an opportunity to get things going in the right direction again and build some confidence. Oakland got rolled over like a clump of cookie dough in their previous series meeting with the Seattle Mariners. In the four-game meeting, they were held to an average 2.5 runs per game.
So Greinke needs to step up and deliver the goods in this one. The Astros clearly have the offense to stand toe-to-toe with any team in baseball. They’re leading the entire league in batting average (.270) and on-base percentage (.342).
But most importantly, they’re the No. 1-ranked run-scoring offense in the league. A snap of a finger and they pile on a scoreboard. If Greinke shows up for this game, the Astros are going to roll on Friday.
A’s need to put the blinders onIt’s hard to shake the feeling that the A’s probably blew their playoff chances after getting swept by the Seattle Mariners. That series represented a collapse of epic proportions for a team that now needs a miracle to get back into the postseason hunt.
They have nine games left in the season—six against the Astros and three against the Mariners. It’ll be an uphill climb, starting with Friday’s game in Houston.
The A’s can’t really afford to drop any more losses. So they need to kick things off with a bang and get a win in their series opener. The Astros have a 9-4 lead against them in the series meetings, and they’ll be coming into this game with all of the momentum on their side. Houston is averaging a league-high 9.36 hits per game with an offense capable of piling up points quickly.
It’ll fall on A’s pitcher Frankie Montas (3.57 ERA) to stand his ground and deliver a strong pitching performance. There’s no coming back for Oakland if their starting pitcher runs into trouble against Houston’s offense.
But it isn’t just Houston’s offense.
The Astros play great on defense as well, and they could play even better if Zack Greinke comes alive. Perhaps the only good news is the fact that the A’s have actually played better on the road than they have at home this season. Oakland is quietly averaging 5.04 runs per game away from the Coliseum.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Astros are 92-36 in their last 128 during Game 1 of a series.
- Astros are 46-19 in their last 65 Friday games.
- Astros are 40-17 in their last 57 games against teams in the American League West.
- Astros are 4-0 in their last 4 games on grass.
- Athletics are 0-5 in their last 5 home games.
- Athletics are 4-10 in their last 14 home games against a team with a winning record.
- Athletics are 2-7 in their last 9 games against a team with a winning record.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s going to be tough for the A’s to bounce back from their recent meltdown against the Mariners. Few teams, if any, are capable of putting something of that magnitude in the rearview and then knocking off the team with the second-best record in the AL.
The Mariners have had their number all season and so have the Astros in the head-to-head meetings. Zack Greinke will straighten things up on the mound and get back to pitching winning baseball ahead of the postseason. Oakland is stumbling at the plate, and the Astros are allowing the fourth-least hits and runs on defense.
It’s hard to envision Oakland taking flight against a legitimate contender like the Astros when they couldn’t even hit against the Mariners at Oakland Coliseum. They’re slashing a pitiful .179/.228/.326 in their last three games. Frankie Montas has the arm to make it interesting, but then again, the Astros are the league’s highest run-scoring offense.
I’m rolling with Houston in this one.
Full-Game Total Pick
Frankie Montas being on the mound for the A’s will keep this game from getting broken wide open. He has actually been solid against the Astros this season with a 2.04 ERA and 2-1 record. Even with all of the offensive talent, Montas is holding Houston to four runs in only 17.2 innings of work. I’m expecting him to keep it close early and the Astros to start to pull away in the later innings. Along with Montas, Zack Greinke is more than capable of keeping things silent at the plate as well. He’s throwing a 0.64 ERA with a perfect 2-0 record against the A’s this season. Give me the under in this one.