Friday night features the second game of a four-game series between the Houston Astros (49-33) and the Cleveland Indians (42-36). The Indians will host this one at Progressive Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
In the first game of the series, the Astros were victorious 7-2. In the win, the Astros hit three home runs, including a grand slam from Jose Altuve to break the game open. Framber Valdez picked up the win going seven innings.
In the loss, J.C. Mejia went four strong innings but couldn’t escape the fifth inning as he gave up five runs in the frame. Yu Chang went two for three after coming in for Eddie Rosario.
Houston is the favorite in Friday’s matchup despite playing on the road. They are -198 to win while the Indians’ moneyline sits at +166. The runline features Cleveland +1.5 (+100), and the over/under for total runs is nine (-110).
Houston will send righty Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 2.94 ERA) to the mound on Friday. In his last start, a 3-2 win over Detroit, McCullers went 5.1 innings of two-run ball while striking out seven.
On the other side of the diamond, the Indians will send lefty Sam Hentges (1-2, 7.32 ERA) to the bump. Hentges took the loss in his last start, an 8-2 loss to the Twins, after giving up six runs in just 3.1 innings of work.
By The Numbers
The Astros lead the majors in terms of scoring thus far this season. They currently are averaging 5.60 runs per game (5.85 on the road). The Indians rank 14th, averaging 4.38 runs.
Defensively, it is once again the Astros with the advantage. They rank ninth in runs allowed at 4.04. The Indians rank 15th, allowing opponents 4.45 runs per game.
Astros Try To Get Back To Form
After losing five of seven and being swept by the Baltimore Orioles earlier this week, the Astros are trying to consistently get back into the win column. They got off to a good start Thursday, especially since Framber Valdez was able to take some pressure off of the bullpen by going seven innings.
Offensively, the team showed how dangerous they could be on Thursday. Even with Alex Bregman on the injured list and Carlos Correa getting the day off, they were still able to get home runs from Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Michael Brantley.
Altuve has been the best hitter in a deep lineup thus far. He is currently hitting .287/.377/.511 with 18 home runs, 47 runs batted in, and 60 runs scored. He leads the team in both home runs and runs scored.
This will be the first time that anyone on the Astros has faced lefty Sam Hentges.
Cleveland Needs To Slow Their Division Slide
Now 4-6 in their last ten games, the Indians are starting to see the White Sox create some separation in the A.L. Central. Currently, five games back, Cleveland needs to start putting some wins together if they hope to remain competitive in the division.
Offensively, the Indians have been led by third baseman Jose Ramirez. On the season, he is hitting .265/.345/.537 and leads the team in home runs (18), runs batted in (50), and runs scored (54).
The Indians are hoping to get some good news on outfielder Eddie Rosario. He left the game in the fourth inning Thursday with an abdominal injury. He was sent to have more tests done, but his absence would be a big blow to the Indians’ offense.
Rosario, who was Cleveland’s major offseason addition, is currently hitting .252/.295/.372 with six home runs, 45 runs batted in, and 26 runs scored.
Take The Astros To Win
Especially with the Astros’ bats breaking through again Thursday night, there is not a whole lot to like about Cleveland in Friday’s matchup.
Houston has the advantage on the mound with Lance McCullers Jr., who has been solid all season. Furthermore, while they have never seen Hentges before, they are hitting .285/.354/.444 when facing lefties this season.
Take the Astros to win in this one at -198.