Afternoon POWER-SMASH ~ MIND BLOWING 20-5 RUN!
Houston vs. Seattle,
08/01/2018 16:10 EDT,
Score: 8 - 3
Money Line: -128 Houston
8* Houston (4:05 ET): These two AL West rivals are separated by only four games in the standings and have split the first two games of this three-game set. However, to call them "evenly matched" would be HIGHLY misleading. What I've written about each of the last two days, and will continue to harp on here, is how the respective run differentials of the two teams tell a VERY different story than the standings do. Houston has outscored its opponents by a MLB-high 180 runs so far this season. Seattle has actually been OUTSCORED, despite being 19 games over .500. In terms of actual vs. expected wins (based on run diff), this is a matchup of the biggest "underachiever" (Astros) and underachiever (Mariners) in all of baseball. Thus, I'll look for Houston to take the series.
The 'Stros were my 10* Game of the Week last night and they came through, winning 5-2. That win actually snapped a season-worst five-game losing streak, which saw them get swept for the 1st time all year (by Texas over the weekend). Key to the Astros success this season has been their remarkable play on the road where they average 5.5 rpg (tied for most in MLB w/ Oakland), which in turn is responsible for them being +2.5 rpg away from home, easily the best mark in all of baseball. They are also 23-12 in day games so far and I like the fact they'll be sending Dallas Keuchel to the bump this afternoon. Keuchel, a former Cy Young, has been great of late w/ a 1.93 ERA and 0.964 WHIP his L3 starts. Last time out, he did lose as a huge favorite (-260 vs. Texas), but prior to that the team had won each of the five times he'd taken the hill. There have only been two instances all year where the team lost B2B Keuchel starts. One was in April and none since June.
Keuchel is 0-2 vs. Seattle this season, but he's 8-7 against them all-time w/ a 3.17 ERA. I think the third time will be the charm this afternoon. The Astros' offense failed to show up either of the two previous tries (just 1 run both games), but that should NOT be the case here against Wade LeBlanc, who - like most in the Seattle rotation - has overachieved. Houston beat LeBlanc back in June, getting to him for three runs in four innings (final score was 7-5). LeBlanc's ERA in seven career appearances vs. Houston is 5.32. He's actually made two additional appearances vs. them in '18 (non-starts) and has given up a total of seven runs on 12 hits in 8 IP. Now that the losing skid is over, look for the Astros to go back to dominating. 8* Houston