In three of the last four Major League Baseball seasons, the Houston Astros had the league’s worst record. They were an an embarrassment to the sport for a period of time, but those struggles must feel like they took place centuries ago after Houston’s start this year. In a test against a tough Oakland Athletics team, the Astros won two of three games and moved their win total to the highest in Major League Baseball while sitting atop the American League’s West division.
The series didn’t start out well for the host Astros, who top baseball tipsters are quickly moving into the group of favorites to win the American League this season. In the first game on Monday, Oakland was victorious in a thrilling 2-1 affair. After Houston took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, the A’s scored the last two runs of the game, including the game winning run in the top of the sixth inning on a Brett Lawrie single.
Games two and three, though, belonged to the Astros. They won Tuesday’s game 6-4, with Chris Carter, Colby Rasmus, and Jason Castro all hitting home runs for the winners. Astros starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez threw six innings and got the winning decision, allowing just two runs during his time on the pitcher’s mound.
In Wednesday’s rubber match, Houston decimated Oakland by a count of 6-1. Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel threw seven lights out innings, allowing just one run in the process to help his team pick up the win. The win for Keuchel was his eighth straight win dating back to last season, six of which have come in 2015.What was so impressive about Houston winning this series is how they managed to stifle Oakland’s potent offense.
Baseball betting experts know that the Athletics have a strong lineup and can score runs at will. To this point in the year, the Athletics’ 185 runs are good for the fifth best total in Major League Baseball, so for the Astros to only allow seven to them in three games is a great job by their pitching staff and defensive unit.
Things don’t get any easier for the Astros in their next series of games, as they travel to Detroit to play four games against the Detroit Tigers from Thursday, May 21 to Sunday, May 25. Detroit is currently in second place in the American League Central, and boast considerable talent including perennial Most Valuable Player candidate Miguel Cabrera.
And while the Astros will continue to run into tough challenges against strong opponents both inside and outside of their divisions, every test that they pass in these early portions of the season will put them in an advantageous position when the latter stages of the year come along. If they can continue to build a lead in their division now, tipsters will respect them as threats to win the World Series.
Oakland, meanwhile, will travel east for four games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who sit in second place in the American League East.
BY: JASON M. SANIN