The lead in the AL West is up for grabs Tuesday in Houston where the Astros host the Los Angeles Angels as small favorites on the baseball betting board.
Percentage points are all that separate the Angels and Astros in the AL West after the Astros pinned a 10-5 decision on the Angels in Tuesday night's series opener. Jose Altuve drove in half of Houston's runs while Astros relievers tossed four shutout frames to secure the victory.
ESPN will be on had for Wednesday's Game 2 (8:10 PM ET), the early pitching battle between LA's Garrett Richards and Houston's Lance McCullers. The contest opened pretty much as a pick 'em, but has since moved to the Astros as small favorites, like the -115 moneyline Bookmaker is presently showing on SBR's live MLB odds. After easily going past an 8 run total in Game 1, tonight's tally is 7½.
Richards Struggling To Hold Scoring Down On Road
Stuck in a lose one, win one rut his last six starts, Richards is coming off a setback at home vs. Minnesota last Thursday, one bad pitch to Trevor Plouffe costing him in the 3-0 Twins triumph. The former Oklahoma Sooner was coming off a brilliant 2-hit shutout against the Red Sox in his previous outing, and stands 4-5 in his road efforts with a 4.73 ERA, more than 2½ runs higher than when he pitches in Anaheim.
One of the road losses came in Houston when he made his season debut on April 19, the Astros taking him deep once and scoring four runs (3 earned) in five frames. Richards won both starts at Minute Maid Park a year ago, combining to allow just one run in 13 frames.
McCullers has pitched better than Houston's 5-7 record in his dozen starts, some of the problem his inability to pitch deeper into the games. Some blame also goes to an Astros lineup that averages less than 4 RPG when he's on the mound, or about half a run less than normal. The rookie is facing the Angels for just the second time, McCullers taking a no-decision in Anaheim on June 24 with six innings of 1-run baseball. The Angels went on to post a 2-1 win in the 13th inning that afternoon.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Calling balls and strikes tonight should be Greg Gibson in this mix of two regular crews. Now in his 19th season at the major league level, Gibson has had a few 'under' runs during 2015 to leave him 6-11-1 O/U/P against the baseball odds. This is his first plate assignment in Houston in more than four years, and home teams have so far gone 13-5 with Gibson behind the dish, 9-4 as favorites.
Baseball bettors can pretty much count on the lid being shut at Minute Maid Park until at least mid-September, and likely beyond that. It will definitely be closed tonight when it's supposed to still be in the low-90s at game time, the heat index sending it up to triple digits. I'm coming right back with an 'over' play for my free baseball pick.
MLB Pick: Angels-Astros Over 7½