The Athletics are coming off a surprising win over the Dodgers and hope to add another upset to their list when they visit the Astros in Houston. Let’s analyze this AL West matchup and keep cashing our MLB picks.
Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros
Thursday, April 8, 2021 – 8:10 PM ET at Minute Maid Park
The A’s got their first win of the season, but it took them seven games to get there. Entering Wednesday’s game, Oakland had dropped four straight to the Astros and the first two of a three-game set with the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
What made matters even worse was that all of these games were played at the Oakland Coliseum, and Wednesday afternoon they were faced with the tall task of snapping their losing streak against the potent Dodgers and then hitting the road to face the team that had waxed them to begin the season, the Houston Astros. And the Athletics hadn’t just gotten nipped in their first six contests, they were obliterated, getting outscored 50-13 by their opponents.
But Wednesday put an end, at least temporarily, to their collective misery. Oakland was down 3-2 entering the ninth inning before Elvis Andrus hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Matt Chapman from third. The game would enter extra innings before Mitch Moreland singled in Mark Canha for the 4-3 victory. Thirty-six-year-old Yusmeiro Petit picked up the W when he pitched a scoreless 10th frame.
Astros Launching Early in the Season
Houston enters Thursday evening’s matchup with the Athletics boasting a 6-1 record and sitting atop the AL West. Of course, it should be noted that they had the benefit of beating up on the A’s in Oakland for their first four victories before splitting a two-game set with the Angels.
The Astros dropped their Monday night meeting with LA by the score of 7-6 but rebounded on Tuesday, courtesy of a Carlos Correa ninth-inning shot that broke open a 2-2 tie and resulted in a 4-2 Astros victory. Houston returns home for the first time this season as they opened with a seven-game road trip and heard plenty of razzing from the stands, a not-so-subtle nod to their sign-stealing scandals of 2017 and 2018.
"They seem unfazed by all the jeers and all the booing," Houston manager Dusty Baker said. "It helped them concentrate even more at the start of the year. This team is very secure in their abilities, and they're secure on and off the field."
Outfielder Michael Brantley is expected to return to the team on Thursday after being sidelined over the last four games with an injury to his right wrist. The 33-year-old veteran has gotten off to a tremendous start, garnering six hits on nine at-bats including a home run, and will be a welcome sight for an offense getting contributions from virtually all of their hitters.
Wanna Make a Bet?
I usually focus heavily on the pitching matchups, but it is so early in the season that their body of work is too small to make that a priority. And while we must consider that Oakland’s Cole Irvin (0-1, 8.31 ERA, 1.89 WHIP) will oppose Houston’s Cristian Javier (0-0, 4.91 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), what we should be thinking about is the hellacious whooping the ‘Stros laid on the A’s in their first four games of the season, sweeping the four-game set and outscoring them 35-9 in the process.
Oh, and why not mention the pitchers? Cole Irvin was torched by the Astros last week when he allowed four runs on seven hits over four-plus innings. And let’s not forget that this is the same Cole Irvin that pitched in only three games last season for the Phillies and ended with an atrocious 17.18 ERA over 3 and 2/3 innings pitched.
Conversely, Houston’s Cristian Javier ended last season with a 5-2 record, 3.48 ERA, and a 0.99 save percentage. His only outing this year was a rather short and, albeit, unspectacular outing in which he allowed two runs on three hits over three-plus innings in what resulted in a 9-5 win over the Athletics last Friday.
The early MLB odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are revealing the Astros as anywhere between -157 to -165 favorites. I would usually quibble betting a favorite with a line this high, but the truth be told, this does not feel like a steep price for a mismatch this big. The Athletics played extra innings on Wednesday and must hop a flight to take on the team that dominated them last week, while the Astros got a day to rest and relax before their home opener. Let’s watch the Astros beat up the A’s for the fifth time this season and make their home debut a winning one.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.