Tagged in: Houston Astros

Astros turn to Verlander, looking to close out Rays

After getting walloped by the Rays 10-3 Monday in Game 3 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field, Hinch flipped the win switch to on, announcing the Astros will be going with Verlander on short rest Tuesday to try to close out the Rays. The Astros lead the series, 2-1.

Hinch made the right move because he has the best insurance policy right behind Verlander in Gerrit Cole, who has won 17 straight games.

Cy Old will go Tuesday and, if needed, Cy Young will pitch Game 5 in Houston on Thursday. Hinch is betting on Verlander so there will be no need for a Game 5 starter, and Cole would be good to go in Game 1 of the ALCS. That would put Verlander in line to be on regular rest for Game 2.

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the world,’’ Hinch said. “No more complicated than that. He’s ready, and it’s his game.’’

Remember, after Verlander defeated the Rays in Game 1, Kevin Cash said, “We got Verlander-ed.’’ It is simple and it’s also a testimony to how good the Rays are because Hinch is saying, “If you are going to beat us, you are going to have to do it in five games and go through Verlander and Cole.”

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Verlander acknowledged he has not been used in a situation like this in the last few years, saying, “Closest we came was out of the bullpen a couple years ago in Boston. I mean, the thought process is five-game series are pretty crazy and we’ve got to win. Never know what can happen. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket and say, ‘If we lose [Tuesday], we’ve got Justin and Gerrit on Game 5.’ It’s a crazy game.

“The last couple days, I’ve felt pretty good. A.J. and I have been discussing it. He made the call.’’ This series is all about Big Game starters. The Astros got it in their first two starts with Verlander and Cole throwing 14 ²/₃ innings of shutout baseball and the Rays got it Tuesday from Mr. Elimination Game, Charlie Morton, who did his winning thing once again through five innings.

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Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics

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Sonny Gray (12-7, 2.36 ERA) and the Oakland Athletics (59-79) take on Scott Kazmir (7-9, 2.50 ERA) and the Houston Astros (75-63) in a game that has the potential to be low scoring. This is the second of a three-game series at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics won the last game 10-9 and Oakland leads the series 1-0. Action begins at 10:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sep. 8 and can be seen on CSCA and RTSW.

Gray pitched 5.0 innings in his most recent start, surrendering six runs, striking out two and walking one in a 9-4 defeat to the Angels. Kazmir went 4.1 innings, surrendering two runs (one unearned), striking out five and walking two in an 8-3 defeat to the Mariners in his last outing. Carlos Correa (.281, 39 Rs, 17 HRs, 50 RBIs, 11 SBs) went 1 for 5 yesterday with one run, one home run, and four RBIs.

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Oakland is a slim -110 favorite at home against Houston. The matchup has an estimated Over/Under (O/U) of seven runs. The Athletics have an overall money line of -2,876 and a record as the favorite of 32-36. Oakland has had a discouraging season against division opponents, earning records of 16-17 and 26-32 as the favorite and SU respectively. The Athletics have seen an uptick in scoring against teams inside their division, averaging 4.7 runs per game. They average 4.2 runs per game on the season. Oakland’s pitching staff has been doing poorly against opposing offenses during the last 10 games, allowing an average of 6.2 runs per game, well above its season average of 4.2. The Athletics are the fourth-best team in the AL at limiting hits to their opponents, allowing only 8.3 hits per game so far this season.

In games where it is the underdog, Houston has a 30-28 record and an overall money line of +573. They have managed to pull off a perfect record over their last ten games while playing as the underdog, and have a 5-5 SU record over the same span. The Astros can change the game with one swing of the bat, ranking second in the league with 188 home runs. The Astros are an excellent base stealing team with 103 stolen bases, ranking third in the MLB. Houston’s pitching staff has set the standard for its league, with an AL-low 3.29 ERA. When it comes to preventing batters from getting on base, the Astros are one of the best in the league with a WHIP of 1.18 for the season.

The Athletics have a bad 12-28 record against left-handed starting pitchers on the year, which is what they’ll be facing when Kazmir takes the mound. Gray (RHP) will be on the hill against the Astros, who have a 49-41 record against right-handed starting pitchers.


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