Sunday's rubber game in Arlington between the Rangers and Astros features a couple of pitchers looking for their second wins of the young season, Houston the small MLB odds favorite.
It all comes down to Sunday's series finale in Texas where the Rangers evened their series with the Houston Astros with a 6-2 decision on Saturday. Yovani Gallardo, who grew up just a few miles west of the Rangers ballpark, provided the early pitching highlights and Texas took advantage of three Houston errors to tally four unearned runs in the tilt.
Plenty more runs could have been plated in the contest, the seventh consecutive between the clubs to stay 'under' the total and 5th-straight in Arlington. Neither club was able to push runs home when they had the opportunities, however, the Astros stranding 13 on the bases while the Rangers left nine and batted 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Both teams could have trouble just getting on base Sunday when a pair of pitchers coming off strong first performances duel, Houston sending Dallas Keuchel to the bump while Texas counters with Colby Lewis. The 3:05 PM (ET) first pitch finds Houston priced at -130 on the MLB odds, an 8½ run total (U -120) also on the baseball betting card.
Hurlers Each Looking For 2nd Opening Week Victories
Keuchel dazzled Cleveland hitters in his Opening Day start in Houston this past Monday, tossing seven shutout frames while allowing just three hits. The former Razorback tossed a shutout vs. the Rangers among his four appearances against them a year ago, the Astros 3-1 in those contests, and is 1-1 in four Arlington starts with a lofty 5.24 ERA.
Lewis also enjoyed a nice first outing, tossing six innings and allowing just one run in Tuesday's 3-1 win at Oakland. The big righthander struggled at home last season after missing 2013 due to hip surgery, the Rangers going 5-11 in his 16 Arlington assignments while pitching to a 5.90 ERA. Lewis has enjoyed facing the Astros over the years, though, winning each of his last three starts vs. Houston with a tiny 0.87 ERA (21 IP).
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
I've never been a big fan of Laz Diaz's strike zone, and it's safe to say pitchers have not been enamored with it over the course of his last 100+ plate assignments. The 20-year veteran worked the Braves-Marlins game in Miami last week when the two clubs managed to double-up a 7 run total, leaving baseball bettors 57-36-8 O/U/P since the start of the 2011 season.
The threat of thunderstorms increases as the afternoon progresses, the two o'clock local time start finding a 20% chance of rain with a muggy 77º on the thermometer. They should be able to get this one in, and despite Lewis' numbers at home last year, I'm taking Texas as home 'dogs for my free MLB pick today.
MLB Pick: Rangers +113 at BookMaker
Season: 7-6 (+0.30)