Forget about Deflategate; the "Dirty Birds" scandal is much more serious business, and the Houston Astros are a big part of it.
But their players don't seem to mind at all; in fact, they continue to ride high as perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2015 baseball season. And they may yet become part of the biggest story in the sport if some of these suspicions of FBI investigators are true.
On Friday night the Astros will meet up with the Seattle Mariners at 10:10 PM ET at Safeco Field in pursuit of their sixth straight victory, during a period of time where they are racking up a lot of runs.
Taking the mound for the Astros is Lance McCullers, a right-hander who is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, while southpaw Roenis Elias gets the assignment from the Mariners. He is 3-4 with a 3.67 ERA and was absolutely shelled in his last outing by this Houston club.
In the baseball betting odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, Houston is the favorite on the road:
Houston Astros (McCullers - R) -130
Seattle Mariners (Elias - L) +120
Under 7 runs -130
Over 7 runs +110
Allegations have been brought up against the St. Louis Cardinals, and more specifically, some of their employees, for hacking into the database of the Astros and stealing certain trade secrets, including player evaluations and some of the analytical data that the team uses in such pursuits. The Astros are known as the most analytics-crazy team in the major leagues, and spearheading that is general manager Jeff Luhnow, who formerly held an executive position with the Cardinals. Apparently some of the team employees were unhappy about Luhnow's departure, and this was payback. What makes this much more serious than the New England Patriots scandal is that there could be jail terms for some of the people involved.
It's the kind of drama BetAnySports customers love to read about, without a doubt.
St. Louis upper management is asserting that they had no idea of the wrongdoing, implying that there may have been some rogue employees who did this on their own. There's another side of the coin as well, which is the question as to whether Luhnow took some Cardinals' data with him when he accepted the job in Houston. This will no doubt get more complicated and more dramatic as the season progresses. Meanwhile, the way things are going right now, there would seem to be a decent chance that Houston and St. Louis (which has the best record in baseball at the moment) could meet up in the World Series, at which point stealing the other teams signs would be the mildest of offenses by comparison. By the way, the odds at BetAnySports on that matchup happening are +3375.
Houston took two out of three games from Seattle at Minute Maid Park last week, scoring 24 runs in the process. Over their last five games, all wins, they have scored 43 times. This team that has lost 416 games in the last four seasons is now 40-28, with a 3.5-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Seattle finds itself 9.5 games behind Houston in the AL West with a 30-37 record.
Elias last only 3 1/3 innings five days ago, giving up seven earned runs in what eventually ended in a 13-0 Houston victory. McCullers, a rookie, opposed them that day and tossed five scoreless innings. In his 36 innings of work this season, McCullers has struck out 40 batters while walking only 10. He has allowed only one home run thus far.
Incidentally, Carlos Correa, Houston's dynamite shortstop prospect was the top pick in the 2012 draft, has played 10 games for the Astros thus far and is hitting .349 with three homers and a slugging percentage of .628.
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