Mike Fiers (9-6, 4.41 ERA) and the Houston Astros (66-61) meet Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.88 ERA) and the Tampa Bay Rays (54-72) in the first of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park. The game gets underway at 8:10 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 26 and will air on RTSW and SUN.
In his last start, Fiers pitched 7.0 innings, allowing one run, striking out seven and walking one in a 12-2 victory over the Orioles. George Springer (.260, 94 Rs, 25 HRs, 72 RBIs, 7 SBs) went 1 for 5 Wednesday with one run. The Rays were also victorious the last time Smyly pitched. He did not do well, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up four runs, striking out seven and walking one in an 8-4 victory over the Rangers. Evan Longoria (.288, 68 Rs, 30 HRs, 79 RBIs) went 1 for 2 yesterday with one run.
Houston, a -145 favorite, will look to capitalize at home against Tampa Bay. The Over/Under (O/U) for the matchup is set at eight runs. When playing as the favorite, the Astros have a 46-44 record and overall money line at -900. The Houston pitching staff and defense has been very good, only giving up 4.2 runs per game. They have been extremely effective at striking opposing batters out, averaging 8.7 strikeouts per game.
On the other side, the Rays have a subpar record of 22-35 when they are the underdog and are -2,444 overall with the money line. Tampa Bay's pitching staff has allowed an average of 2.7 runs per game during the last 10 games, lower than their season average of 4.3. The Tampa Bay pitching staff has been an intimidating group this year, averaging 8.5 strikeouts per game.
In their previous three games this season, the Rays have a 2-1 record. The Astros will take on a left-hander (Smyly) in this game and have a 19-21 record against left-handed starting pitchers this season. Taking the hill against the Rays will be the right-hander Fiers. They sport a 39-54 record against righties.
Predictions: SU Winner - HOU, O/U - Over
The Rays won their last game by a one-run margin. In games decided by one run, the Astros are 20-21. The Rays are 10-19 in close games this season.
The Astros are coming into this game after allowing two walks during their last outing. The Rays have an 18-40 record when opponents give up two walks or less.
When they are outhit, the Rays are 10-54. The Astros have a 10-53 record when opponents outhit them.
Houston ranks in the top half of the league when it comes to home runs, hitting 157 this season. Tampa Bay ranks in the top 10 at sixth with 167.
Houston and Tampa Bay both rank in the top half of the league in hits. Houston sits at 12th with 8.49 hits per game and Tampa Bay ranks 15th with 8.13.
Ranking 16th, Tampa Bay is in the bottom half of the league for its on-base plus slugging percentage (.735). Houston ranks in the top half at 14th with an OPS of .742.
When the Rays allow at least one home run, they are 29-64. When the Astros allow one or more homers, they have a 42-40 record.