Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Jarred Cosart showed why he's one of the top young pitchers in the majors on Tuesday, yet it still wasn't enough for the Houston Astros to grab a dubya against the Texas Rangers.
With brooms standing by, the Rangers and Astros complete their next-to-last series on Wednesday with a matchup of dueling southpaws on the mound. Erik Bedard is up next for Houston while Texas sends Derek Holland to the hill as an enormous $2.85 favorite on the MLB odds. An 8.5 run total for the tilt favors the OVER.
Cosart made just one mistake, and Adrian Beltre made him pay with a 2-run homer to lead the Rangers to Tuesday's 4-2 triumph. The 6th-inning blast was the first long ball Cosart has allowed in seven starts, and the loss was Houston's seventh straight to Texas.
Thanks to service time with the Orioles, Mariners and Red Sox, Bedard had plenty of history vs. the Rangers before the 2013 campaign started, and he has added to that while with the Astros. Wednesday will be his fourth start against Texas this year, and he also got in a relief appearance on Opening Night when he recorded his one and only career save. The Canadian hasn't pitched poorly against the Rangers in his three starts (4.50 ERA), but Houston still managed to lose all three contests.
Texas couldn't muster any offense last Friday when Holland tossed seven scoreless innings against the Mariners. Seattle rallied against Rangers relievers for the 3-1 victory, Texas' third loss in Holland's six starts following the All-Star Game even though he has posted a 2.55 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in those assignments.
Holland is seeing the Astros for the second time this season, earning a no-decision in a 5-4 Texas victory 11 days ago in Houston. The Rangers are 3-1 in his four career starts (5.25 ERA) against the 'Stros who are 11-21 against lefthanders this year; the Rangers are 24-13 going up against southpaw starters, the best mark in the AL.
Working the plate for the umpire crew in the Hump Day finale will be 14-year veteran Lance Barksdale. The Mississippi native has a 12-11-2 (O/U/P) split on totals in 2013, and has been a boon to bettors backing home favorites the past four seasons (62-26).
The Astros can still salvage a winning road trip if they can avoid Texas' brooms tonight, but that would seem to be asking too much. With the Rangers unable to put runs on the board behind Holland, I'm hesitant to even go with a run line play in order to cut through some of the chalk. About the only way I can have fun with a wager on this game is to play the OVER for my sports picks.
My MLB Pick: Astros-Rangers Over 8.5 (-120)
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Check out Tuesday's Baseball Betting Odds & Lines Report for a breakdown of today's games!
Don't you just love it when you're on the ‘Over’ and one of the teams explodes for 11 runs in the third inning? How does the baseball betting look for today's game?
That's exactly what happened in Monday's series opener when Texas Rangers routed the Houston Astros by a 16-5 count. Houston tries to pick itself up in Game 2 behind rookie sensation Jarred Cosart, and the Astros will be facing a former teammate who was in their bullpen until a week ago as Travis Blackley takes the mound for the Rangers.
Texas' late announcement that Blackley would pitch delayed the MLB odds from an overnight release. The money line went out Tuesday morning with Texas at -220 and a 9 run total after opening half a run higher.
The Rangers' big 3rd-inning on Monday included 15 men going to bat and a pair of Astros errors resulting in six of the 11 runs being unearned. Texas improved to 12-2 against Houston on the year, and maintained its slim half-game lead over Oakland in the AL West standings.
Except for the walks, Cosart has been nothing short of outstanding since making his MLB debut last month. Part of the compensation the Astros got from the Phillies in the 2011 Hunter Pence trade, Cosart has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his six starts, and managed to work at least six innings all but one of them. Those 18 BB's in 39 innings are a concern, but he has limited the damage by not serving up any homers while holding hitters to a .211 average.
Blackley began the season in Houston's bullpen, and was still part of that relief mix when August opened before being dealt to Texas on August 14th for a still-unnamed player or cash. The southpaw had a 4.89 ERA in 42 relief outings for the Astros, and is making his first MLB start since last October when he was with the A's and ironically faced the Rangers. Four innings is likely all Blackley has in the tank for this one, and right-hander Ross Wolf could be the first arm manager Ron Washington summons from the 'pen.
Kerwin Danley is next up in the umpire rotation to call balls and strikes, bringing a strong ‘Under’ lean on the year into Tuesday's tilt (4-15-2 O/U/P). His last four have failed to reach the total, as did both of his plate assignments in games involving the Astros; his lone appearance behind the dish in Arlington this season was a push on a 9-run mark.
Houston has the edge in the starting pitching matchup, especially since Cosart's penchant for inducing ground balls should play well at Rangers Ballpark. The Astros, however, are no match offensively for the Rangers. I'm going to play the ‘Over’ one more time for my free sports pick.
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Monday Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
For an early edge in today's games, check out our Daily Baseball Betting Odds & Lines Report!
The good news for the Houston Astros is their road trip is coming to an end. The bad news is they have to make one more stop in Arlington to face the Texas Rangers who have owned the Astros over the last 4+ seasons. Let's review the MLB odds and see who we should back in this series.
This 3-game series is the first of two remaining between the AL West foes, both sets taking place at Rangers Ballpark where Texas has won nine of the last 11 against Houston. The Rangers have dominated the Astros this season, winning 11 of 13, and flat-out owned Houston by taking 30 of the last 37 going back to 2009 when the clubs played interleague series.
Texas swept four from the Astros a week ago in Houston where the totals split 2-2. The three games in Arlington back in early-July saw the ‘Over’ cash twice, which is exactly what happened in the three games at Rangers Ballpark in 2012.
Managers Shuffle Rotations to Begin Series
Both teams are changing up their rotations for the series; the Rangers are being forced to shuffle theirs due to righthander Alexi Ogando being unavailable with a shoulder issue. Thanks to an off day last Thursday, Texas skipper Ron Washington can bump Matt Garza up to start Game 1 on regular rest, but he remains undecided who fills in Tuesday.
Jordan Lyles was originally scheduled for Houston, but manager Bo Porter pulled the unexpected and used Lyles out of the bullpen in Sunday's finale with the Angels. Taking Lyles' place is Lucas Harrell, and it's a mismatch according to the MLB odds that opened with the Rangers at -285, the largest chalk on Monday's baseball betting board. Monday's total is 8.5 (‘Over’ -120).
Garza is facing the Astros for the third time this season, once while he was still with the Cubs and 10 days ago in Houston for the Rangers. The former Fresno State star earned the victory in both of his previous starts vs. the 'Stros, though they did touch him for two homers and four runs in his seven innings of work on August 9th. He followed that up last Wednesday by allowing two more homers and four runs in 5.2 frames vs. Milwaukee, not figuring into the decision that went 5-4 to the Rangers. Garza won his last five starts with Chicago, and the Rangers have won four of his first five since he came over in the July trade.
After a decent campaign a year ago, 2013 has been a huge disappointment for Harrell. He was relegated to relief work the past seven weeks, with the exception of a July 30th start in Baltimore, and the last time he pitched off this mound was a complete disaster. Texas roughed him up for nine runs (7 earned) in a July 5th outing, mashing three homers before chasing him two outs into the fourth inning.
Astros Finding Success on This Road Trip
Winning a game is tough enough for Houston and winning a series is even more difficult. But Houston enters this series playing well on this 9-game trip that started in Oakland last week before moving to Anaheim over the weekend. The Astros took two of three in each series, and were close to sweeping the Angels. It's only the third time they have won consecutive series, and taking two of three in Arlington would give them three straight, a first for 2013.
Weather shouldn't be a factor for any game in this set, and by Texas standards, the 90º temps at first pitch each night will almost feel cool after another summer of triple-digit readings.
Harrell worked out of the 'pen for Houston twice last week in Oakland, one of them a 3+ inning effort, and starts Monday's contest with just three days off. That means Porter is going to need his relievers by the fifth or sixth inning tonight, and it's a group that ranks last in the majors with a 5.24 ERA. I'm looking forward to those relievers getting into the game to help my free sports pick on the ‘Over’.
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