The Oakland Athletics (49-38) will face the Houston Astros (53-33) to wrap up a three-game series on Thursday, in which the Athletics will hope to stop giving up ground in the American League West. The Astros hold a 4 ½-game lead over the Athletics, entering Wednesday night’s action, thanks in part to a season series that has gone Houston’s way so far. The Astros won the first five meetings, all in early April, and they’ve won three of six games since then. These teams still have six more games to go against one another, but they’ll have to wait for the final two weeks of the season to settle their scores.
Free Picks: Oakland Athletics vs Houston Astros
Athletics not catching Astros at the right time
Divisional games, in any sport, create a double-edged sword effect. If you win, your gain is doubly important; if you lose, though, the impact in the standings is equally significant.
Entering Wednesday night, double-edged divisional games have served more as a foe than a friend for the Athletics: They trail the AL West-leading Astros by 4 ½ games, and they’ve lost eight of 11 games in the teams’ season series.
Houston might simply be the better team, which explains why they’re -167 money line odds (10Bet) among the day’s MLB picks. Oakland, which is at risk of losing four consecutive series for the first time all year, lags as +135 money line underdogs (10Bet).
The Astros have been trending up lately, with five consecutive wins. They’ve won pretty decisively in their eight victories over the Athletics, boasting an average margin of victory of 5 ½ runs per game. Two of the winning pitchers in this series — Lance McCullers Jr. and Frankie Montas — are now pitted against each other.
McCullers Jr. (6-1, 2.97 ERA) doesn’t always pitch deep into games, but he makes the most of his innings. His two starts against Oakland so far this season have featured nearly identical stat lines: five innings, two hits, one run, three walks. He had a no-decision in one and a win in the other, but clearly both outings were solid.
Montas (7-7, 4.63 ERA) isn’t having as nice of a year as McCullers Jr., but he’s been comparably stout when facing the Astros. In his two starts against Houston this year, Montas has allowed three runs on 13 hits and three walks in 11 innings.
The low run allowance from Montas doesn’t fairly denote how the Astros hit against him, though. In 179 plate appearances as a team (i.e. the equivalent of roughly one third of a season for one player), Houston is posting a .278/.346/.457 slash line. Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa have had the most success, both boasting OPS numbers of 1.000 or better in 25-plus plate appearances.
If not for a recent home sweep suffered against the Orioles — which, truly, no one saw coming — the Astros would have even shorter odds here. The Athletics are a talented team, but unfortunately for them the Astros have just proven to be better to this point.
We’ll stick with the favored Astros for this BetPicks prediction, and we urge bettors to consider the over on 9.0 runs (-109 at 10Bet) as well. The over has hit in the past five meetings between these teams.
- Oakland is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in five of the Athletics’ past nine games
- Houston is 8-2 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in five of the Astros’ past eight games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).