By: Jack O’Keefe & Trent Pruitt
Clutch hitting has been the bottomline for the Astros in this series and that held true during yesterday’s game 5 victory over the Rays. Obviously we all saw the Carlos Correa walkoff bomb but let’s not forget about Michael Brantley’s two-RBI knock in the 3rd inning that gave the Astros the early lead. Like I said, clutch hitting (and the lack of ) have been the story here. Through the first three games the Astros stranded 31 runners on base and were 4-24 with RISP. As for game four and five, the Astros were 1-8 with RISP and left 13 runners aboard. So not much better, but enough to get it done and make this an interesting series.
Kevin Cash turns the rotation back over and gives Blake Snell the nod in game six while Dusty Baker looks to Framber Valdez to try and even up the series in a battle of lefties. Let’s dive into the numbers and analysis and try and cash a couple of tickets!
Money Line: TB -134, HOU +124
Run Line: TB -1.5 (+145), HOU +1.5 (-165)
Total: 8 (O -105, U -115)
First Pitch: 5:07 CST, Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Trent’s Analysis & Best Bet
As much as I was hoping I could find an angle to back the Astros tonight, I simply cannot. I am taking the Rays on the money line (-134) tonight for a unit to win and advance to the World Series. It’s a battle of left-handed starters and the first thing I do when there are lefties on the bump is head over to fangraphs.com. During the regular season Tampa Bay was the 6th best team against LHP, boasting a wOBA of .343 and BABIP of .294. Houston in those same categories came in at .303 and .258, respectively. I expect Snell to be on an extremely short leash tonight as the head to head numbers are far from good against the Astros. Brantley is 4-6 with a homer, Altuve is 4-13 with three bombs, Bregman is 5-13 with a homer and four walks, and Gurriel is 5-14 with three doubles. Honestly, looking at those numbers, I am a little shied away from this bet but like I said, if Cash senses Snell is in any trouble, he’s getting yanked. He’ll be more than happy to put that stable full of big arms from the bullpen in this game.
As for Frambar Valdez, he faced the Astros in game one, going 6.0 IP and allowing two earned runs on four hits and four walks. The Rays also have the 2nd highest BB% against lefties (11.7%) so if Valdez can’t find his control at any point, look for Tampa to take advantage of that and earn some free passes. Ultimately, I was hoping this series would make it to seven games, and it very well could as the momentum has shifted and this is far from a lock, but I think Snell hurls a gem tonight and the Rays advance.
-Trent Pruitt (@trentbets)
Jack’s Analysis & Best Bet
Trent, I think I have to agree with you. I believe tonight will be the night we see the Tampa Bay Rays advance to their second world series appearance in franchise history. We need to give some major credit to the Houston Astros though first. The Astros are just the fourth team in baseball history to force a Game 6 after starting the series down 3-0. Can it happen though? Does Houston have enough pop in their bat to force the unimaginable Game 7 after starting the series down 3-0? It is a stretch to think, but this is 2020 after all where anything can happen.
Framber Valdez gets the ball for Houston and he will look to bounce back after coming up on the short-end of a 2-1 loss Sunday in Game 1 versus these Tampa Bay Rays. The southpaw pitched six innings, allowed four hits, two earned runs and struck out eight batters along the way. Aside from a Randy Arozarena homerun and a Mike Zunino RBI single in the sixth inning, the Astros were very much in contention to win Game 1. Houston outhit the Rays nine hits to six in that game, but it was an inability to generate hits with runners in scoring position that was the deciding factor for Houston in Game 1. If the Astros were just a smidge better than 2-8 with runners in scoring position, maybe they pull this game off and set a completely different tone for what was to follow in the series. Tampa Bay was 1-8 with runners in scoring position that game, so I mean, it really was a game for the taking for either ball club. It has been over a month though since the Rays have lost three games in a row, so fortunes do not look promising for Houston.
Blake Snell will get the ball for Tampa Bay, where he looks to carve up the Houston batters once again like he did in Game 1. Carve up is not exactly true, Snell did surrender six hits and two walks in the ballgame against Houston over five innings on the mound. Luckily for Snell, he was never burned by the Astros bats despite having high traffic on the base path. Here is what worries me about the Rays right now: who else besides Randy Arozarena is going to step up to produce some offensive firepower? Ji-Man Choi had two hits last night, one of which being the game tying homerun in the eighth inning, but Choi will most likely be out of the starting lineup tonight due to his inability to hit left-handed pitching. In the last two games, the Rays are a combined one for ten with runners in scoring position. I really do not care how dominant your pitching can be at times, you are going to lose games more often than not if you are only able to generate 2-3 runs of offense per game. That is just a hard fact of life.I am really on the fence in terms of what I think will happen tonight, but I am really starting to get on board with the offensive prowess that Houston has displayed in the last two games. The Astros are not going to lay down to Tampa Bay, and I cannot believe I am actually typing this, but I am going to take the Astros ML (+124) as my best bet of the night. Prepare yourselves for absolute madness that is about to unfold in a few short hours.
-Jack O’Keefe (@jpokeefe1s)
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