Scott Kazmir (6-7, 2.12 ERA) and Erasmo Ramirez (9-4, 3.59 ERA) take the hill in the first of a four-game series between the Houston Astros (64-54) and the Tampa Bay Rays (58-59) at Minute Maid Park. Action begins at 8:10 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 17 and can be seen on SUN and RTSW.
Kazmir pitched 5.2 innings in his most recent start, surrendering two runs (one unearned), striking out three and walking two in a 3-1 defeat to the Giants. Colby Rasmus (.239, 43 Rs, 17 HRs, 44 RBIs, 2 SBs) had another good game yesterday, going 2 for 4 with two runs, two home runs, and two RBIs. Ramirez went 7.0 innings, surrendering zero runs and striking out four in a 2-0 win over the Braves in his last outing. Logan Forsythe (.278, 45 Rs, 13 HRs, 51 RBIs, 7 SBs) has been successful at the plate for the Rays, going 2 for 4 yesterday.
Houston is a -159 favorite against Tampa Bay and the Over/Under (O/U) for this game is sitting at seven runs. The Astros have an overall money line of +504 and a record as the favorite of 37-27. The Astros have seen a decline in scoring as of late, averaging 3.0 runs during the last 10 games compared to their season average of 4.4 runs per game. The Astros lead the MLB in home runs with 161. Houston is one of the best in the MLB in terms of steals, swiping 89 bases. Crossing over to the pitching staff, opposing offenses have been stifled by the Astros, who have a team ERA of only 3.40. The Astros are the third-best team in the league at limiting hits and walks to their opponents, recording a WHIP of 1.19 so far this season.
In games where it is the underdog, Tampa Bay has a 29-33 record and an overall money line of -272. Offensively, the Rays have really picked up the pace in the last 10 games. They have exceeded their season average of 3.7 runs per game by averaging 5.1 during that stretch. When it comes to preventing batters from getting hits, the Rays are the best in the AL with an average of 7.9 hits allowed per game. The Rays have established a reputation of overwhelming hitters with an AL-best 8.2 strikeouts per game, making them one of the top five teams in the league.
The Rays have the edge in the season series, 3-0. The Astros have a 41-34 record against right-handed starting pitchers on the year, which is what they'll be facing when Ramirez takes the mound. Kazmir (LHP) will be on the hill against the Rays, who have a 20-13 record against left-handed starting pitchers.
Predictions: SU Winner - Hou, O/U - Over
For the 14th time this season, the Astros registered at least two errors in a game.
The Astros are coming off of a hot pitching game where they recorded 13 strikeouts. The Rays have a record of 3-6 when they are struck out that many times or more.
When they are outhit, the Rays are 11-36. The Astros have a 12-39 record when opponents outhit them.
Houston ranks at the top of the league when it comes to home runs with 161 this season. Tampa Bay ranks in the top half at 15th with 109.
Houston and Tampa Bay both rank in the top half of the league in hits. Houston sits at 15th with 8.08 hits per game and Tampa Bay ranks 14th with 8.18.
Ranking 19th, Tampa Bay is in the bottom half of the league for its on-base plus slugging percentage (.704). Houston ranks in the top 10 at 10th with an OPS of .734.
The Rays are 27-44 when they allow at least one home run. The Astros perform similarly when they allow one or more homers with a 23-37 record.