Houston Astros (+121) at San Francisco Giants (-131, 6 o/u)
Tonight’s interleague battle will pit two playoff hopefuls against each other as the Houston Astros (61-52, 23-34 Away), leaders of the AL West, host the San Francisco Giants (59-52, 30-23 Home), who sit second in the NL West and third in the Wild Card standings. Tonight’s game goes at 10:15 PM Eastern at AT&T Park.
Despite both teams being well above .500 on the year, they have both struggled lately. The Astros just dropped three straight to the last-place Athletics – and have now won just once in their last seven – while the Giants suffered a costly sweep at the hands of one of their Wild Card rivals, the Chicago Cubs.
Houston lost in especially painful fashion on Sunday, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 4-3 lead, only to see Oakland come back with two in the bottom half for a 5-4 win.
“Every loss is bad, especially with all these close games,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said to the Associated Press. “We’ve had a rough week.”
The good news for Houston is that Scott Kazmir (6-6, 2.08 ERA) is the scheduled starter for tonight; he struggled the last time he was on the mound, going just 5.2 innings and allowing six hits and four runs in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers; but the former Athletic remains one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL, and has a miniscule. 0.44 ERA in three starts since joining Houston.
The Giants, who are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Cubs in the series finale, will counter Kazmir with their own ace, Madison Bumgarner (12-6, 3.28 ERA). The reigning World Series MVP hasn’t been as dominant as most were expecting this year, posting an ERA well over three. But his most recent starts suggest a return to form; he’s won four of his last five and gave up just one run over 7.1 innings in his last start against the Braves.
With the pitching matchup looking like a stalemate, look for homefield to be decisive. (The Astros are nine games under away from home while the Giants are seven games over.)
Pick: San Francisco Giants (-131).
(Photo credit: X Wad [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)