The Houston Astros (42-32, 23-14 Home) have been slapping the ball silly this season, leading the majors with 107 home runs, but their opponent this weekend is no long-ball slouch either as the New York Yankees (39-33, 18-19 Away) and their 98 dingers come to town today to open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park (8:10 PM Eastern).
The Astros are fourth in the MLB in runs this season and fifth in slugging percentage and kept swinging some hot bats in a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. However, their offense let them down last night, dropping a 13-inning war of attrition to lose the series to the rival Angels, 2-1.
Houston will try to avoid a second loss in a row by sending their ace, Dallas Keuchel (8-3, 2.35 ERA), to the mound. The lefty had a hot start this season, but has dropped two of his last three starts, including a 6-3 setback against the Mariners last weekend, where he went 6.0 innings, allowing five hits and five runs (including three homers, the most on the season for him).
“I just kind of lost it there in the second [inning],” Keuchel said to the Associated Press after the loss to the Ms. “I’ve got to figure something out, even if I can’t get a grip on the ball. That’s a very frustrating thing.”
The Yankees, meanwhile, ended a three-game losing streak with a 10-2 victory over the lowly Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night. New York will counter Keuchel with right-handed Adam Warren (5-4, 3.62 ERA) who is unbeaten in his last three (2-0). Warren almost went the distance in his last outing, going eight strong and giving up just two runs on seven hits in a 7-2 win over Detroit. Warren threw 110 pitches over his eight innings – his highest count on the season – and struck out seven.
In the trends, the Astros took four of six from New York last season and look much improved this year. That said, the Yankees are 13-5 SU in their last 18 against Houston dating back to 2008 and beat Keuchel last time they faced him (August 2014), getting to the lefty for seven hits and three runs. With Keuchel starting to struggle a bit, the Yanks at +135 look like the better option tonight.
Pick: Yankees (+135).
(Photo Credit: Eric Enfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)