Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4925 Houston Astros vs.
#4926 Oakland Athletics
Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 4:07pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of AL West rivals heading in different directions finish up their weekend series on the diamond up in northern California. The Houston Astros are on the road as they close out a three-game series with the Oakland A’s Sunday afternoon. In the opening game of the series Friday night, it was the A’s picking up a blowout 14-2 victory to give themselves a shot at a series win here regardless of the outcome Saturday. This article was published prior to the conclusion of the middle game of the series at the RingCentral Coliseum Saturday afternoon. Can Oakland push back in the wild card race or will Houston keep them reeling en route to taking the next step toward the AL West crown?

Houston Astros Looking to Lock Down AL West Crown

Houston suffered their second straight loss as they were hammered by a desperate Oakland team looking to stop the bleeding Friday night. The Astros entered Saturday holding a six-game advantage over the Mariners for the top spot in the division race and had a magic number of three to clinch the division title. On Friday, Houston finished with just two hits as Jose Altuve (two runs, RBI) and Chas McCormick each had one. Altuve hit his 30th homer of the season in a losing effort. Brandon Bielak (3-4) took the loss on the mound as he allowed three runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over three innings of work.

Jake Odorizzi is on the mound for his 23rd appearance and 22nd start of the year for the Astros in this contest. He comes in 6-7 with a 4.22 ERA, a 1.219 WHIP, 31 walks and 86 strikeouts over 96 innings of work on the year. Odorizzi didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came on September 13 on the road against the Rangers. He threw 1.1 innings, allowing no runs on two hits with no walks and one strikeout before leaving with a foot injury in an eventual 15-1 Houston victory. On the road this season, Odorizzi is 4-4 with a 4.70 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, 19 walks and 42 strikeouts over 48.2 innings in 11 starts. Odorizzi makes his ninth career start against the A’s in this contest. He comes in 1-4 with a 4.03 ERA, a 1.119 WHIP, 15 walks and 33 strikeouts over 44.2 innings of work against them. Odorizzi is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, a 0.792 WHIP, six walks and 16 strikeouts over 24 innings in four career starts at the RingCentral Coliseum.

Oakland A’s Hoping to Keep Fading Playoff Hopes Alive

Oakland bounced back from a four-game sweep at home by the Mariners as they earned a victory in the opening game of this series Friday night. The A’s entered Saturday third in the AL West, eight games behind the Astros for the division lead. They were four games behind the Yankees for the second wild-card spot entering Saturday’s action with eight games to go. On Friday night, Oakland got four hits from Starling Marte (three runs, four RBI) while Matt Olson (four RBI), Tony Kemp (two runs) and Yan Gomes (two runs) each added two. Chad Pinder hit his fourth homer of the season in the victory. The offensive barrage was more than enough for Frankie Montas (13-9), who threw seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Paul Blackburn is on the mound for the A’s as he makes his eighth start of the year in this contest. He comes in 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA, a 1.596 WHIP, eight walks and 23 strikeouts over 31.1 innings of work on the year. Blackburn took the loss in his last start, which came at home against the Mariners Monday. He threw four innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts in a game the A’s eventually dropped 5-2. At home this season, Blackburn has a 0-1 record, a 4.67 ERA, a 1.442 WHIP, three walks and 14 strikeouts over 17.1 innings in his four starts. Blackburn, makes his third career appearance and second start against the Astros in this contest. He comes in 0-1 with an 18.47 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, three walks and no strikeouts over 6.1 innings of work against them. This is his 12th career appearance and 11th start at the RingCentral Coliseum. Blackburn is 3-4 with a 6.06 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP, 19 walks and 42 strikeouts over 62.1 innings of work in those contests. Prior to being called up, Blackburn was 4-7 with a 4.97 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP, 27 walks and 80 strikeouts over 88.2 innings in 17 appearances, 16 starts, for Triple-A Las Vegas of the American Association West Division.

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The Astros are on the precipice of their fourth AL West crown in the last five years and they could do some serious damage to Oakland’s fading playoff hopes. Odorizzi may well be on a pitch count here as he is coming back from that foot sprain he sustained when covering first base in his start against the Rangers. The Astros have been good about keeping the pitch counts of their starting pitchers in check and squeezing out extra rest here and there when they can. Houston has a very good lineup that is capable of putting up crooked numbers at a moment’s notice. Blackburn has struggled in the majors this season and he has a tough challenge here. Give the advantage to the Astros as they leave town with a victory here.

Prediction: Houston Astros ML

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Houston comes into this one leading the majors in runs per game. The Astros are even more dangerous on the road as they average more runs per game as the visiting team (5.47) than they do at Minute Maid Park (5.29) this season. Odorizzi tends to get involved in high-scoring affairs and his recent contests bear that out. He’s seen an average total of 10.6 runs per game on the board in his last 10 starts with the over going 7-2-1 in that stretch. In Blackburn’s seven starts this season, he’s posted an average total of 9.43 runs per game. While the under has hit in five of those seven outings, dealing with Houston is a different ball of wax all together. Look for the Astros to put some runs on the board and help push this one over the total.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

Chris Kubala has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well. as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.