Sports BIT: Astros-Blue Jays, Angels-Rangers & 2017 Colts

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On the Friday, July 7 Sports BIT show, Teddy Covers & Pauly Howard break down two games on the MLB schedule: Houston at Toronto and LA Angels at Texas. The Astros have been one of the best road teams in MLB history thus far. Also, a Deep Dive on the 2017 Indianapolis Colts.

Houston Astros at Toronto Blue Jays

How good has Houston been on the road this season? Entering Thursday, the Astros were 31-9 away from home. That was tied for the best 40-game road start in modern MLB history (since 1900). The other two teams on the list share the major league record of 116 total wins in a season (2001 Mariners and 1906 Cubs). The Astros are averaging a league-high 6.9 runs per game on the road. That average would be the most by any team in a single season since the 1939 Yankees. Facing that lineup on Friday is Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez, who comes off the DL. He has been limited to five outings this year because of a blister on his right middle finger. Sanchez, an All-Star in 2016, will be on a pitch limit of around 90. Houston also will activate Charlie Morton off the DL for Friday’s game. He hasn’t made a big-league start since May 24 due to a strained right lat muscle.

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Neither of these teams are going to catch Houston in the AL West Division, but both are in the wild-card race so every win counts. They are separated by one game even though Texas is plus-19 in run differential on the season and the Angels are minus-12. Which Cole Hamels will the Rangers get here? The lefty had a 4.38 ERA in his first six starts this year, but last time out he looked like the Hamels of old with 6.2 innings against the White Sox, allowing only two hits and two runs. He retired 19 in a row at one point. "My whole game plan is to throw strikes,” Hamels said. “It didn't happen to the first couple guys the way I'd like. It's more just bear down and throw strikes. Be aggressive in the strike zone." L.A.’s Ricky Nolasco threw his team’s first shutout of the season his last time out. He allowed three hits and permitted no walks, striking out seven against the Mariners. It was his second straight start allowing no runs.

Deep Dive On 2017 Indianapolis Colts

In quarterback Andrew Luck’s first three seasons in the NFL, he played all 16 regular-season games in each and Indy was 11-5 and won the AFC South Division all three years. However, Luck has had injury problems since and the Colts have gone 8-8 in back-to-back years and missed the playoffs. Coach Chuck Pagano thus enters 2017 on the hot seat. Unfortunately for him, Luck still hasn’t start throwing from offseason shoulder surgery. Will he even be ready for Week 1? Luck has been sacked 156 times in five seasons, and the Colts' inability to surround him with a quality offensive line continues to be an issue. The defense has been an issue in Luck’s tenure as well. First-year GM Chris Ballard has been aggressive in targeting outside linebackers in free agency -- John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo. Ballard has taken the quantity approach to shoring up the league's fourth-worst defense per DVOA from a year ago. Indy has a 2017 win total of 8.5 at SBR’s top sportsbooks. 

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