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Houston/Minnesota over 4.5 -120:
Break up the Houston Astros (27-35) who have won 10 of their last 13 and took the opener of a 3 game series against the Minnesota Twins (28-31) 5-4 last night. George Springer, Marvin Gonzalez and Matt Dominguez each homered while Dallas Keuchel pitched 6 scoreless innings improving to 7-3 this season. Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless 9th for his 7th save as the 'Stros survived some shoddy middle relief. Phil Hughes gave up all 5 Houston runs through 6 falling to 6-2 despite striking out 7. Both teams meet in game 2 this afternoon from Target Field.
Scott Feldman (3-3 4.25) had been far from his best in May and got absolutely shelled in his last outing. Feldman was pummeled in a 9-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles giving up 9 runs on 11 hits in just 5 IP including a grand slam to Manny Machado. This afternoon he faces a Minnesota Twins lineup hitting just .244 collectively and averaging about 4.3 runs per contest. Brian Dozier (.246 12 30) is the primary source of power accounting for a quarter of the teams long balls along with a club high 13 steals. Eduardo Escobar (.315 1 11) leads Minnesota in batting in a limited role and continues to platoon with Pedro Florimon at SS. Trevor Plouffe (.250 5 35) seems to have rebounded after a slow start leading the Twins in RBI. Joe Mauer (.269 2 15) however has been mired in a month long slump hitting under .200 in his last 20 games. Kurt Suzuki (.294 2 28) has produced well behind the plate and is reportedly close to signing an extension. With Mauer going through struggles, Josmil Pinto (.221 7 16) has made the most of his opportunities given playing time.
Minnesota counters with Kyle Gibson (4-5 4.35) who has also run into trouble over his last few starts. Last week in a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee Gibson yielded 4 runs on 6 hits and hasn't won since May 16th. He faces an Astros lineup averaging about 3.8 runs per contest hitting just .237 overall. However the offense has certainly come around over the last 2 weeks thanks to Springer (.250 11 34) who went through a stretch of hitting 7 HR over 7 games. Dominguez (.254 9 25) has hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games. Jose Altuve (.316 2 20) has a 5 game hitting streak and is 6th in the AL in batting. along with 21 stolen bases. Houston hopes to get more consistency from Dexter Fowler (.268 3 17) who is 7 for his last 17 (.412 ) over his last 4 games. The Astros may still own the AL West basement, but no longer hold the dubious distinction of being the league's least efficient.
This afternoon's price is a little on the high side, but we can't complain much given that Target Field is one of the AL's hitter friendly parks. Even with showers forecast to dot the area and some cool conditions the elements shouldn't wear down the offense. Both pitchers have struggled to find their rhythm as of late and we believe that one of them will before game 2 concludes. The Astros have shown no signs of slowing down and their supporting cast is getting the job done which has resulted in some quality wins. Consequently, Minnesota is averaging better than 5 runs per contest over the last 4 and could also get their licks in against Feldman. If the bullpens get involved before the halfway mark, the offenses should help us cruise to victory. Best of luck however you play!
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