The Houston Astros will look to win back-to-back games against the Texas Rangers in the second game of a three-game series Saturday night. Despite being on the road, the Astros are heavy -230 favorites to win on Saturday.
Friday’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Rangers. Those wins took Texas back above .500. The Rangers have been a little better than expected during the early part of the season, even taking two of three from Houston earlier this month.
Of course, the Astros are in a familiar position at the top of the AL West standings. Technically, they are tied with Seattle, although the Astros have a higher win percentage with a 13-6 record. The Astros had a 10-game winning streak snapped Wednesday night, but Friday’s win over the Rangers got them back on track right away.
Solid and Steady
Gerrit Cole will get the start for Houston on Saturday. He’s been good through his first four starts of the season but not quite at an ace level. Cole is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA but has gone at least six innings in each of his first four starts. Of course, one of those losses came against the Rangers the first week of April when he allowed three runs on four hits and three walks over six innings despite striking out nine.
In his career, Cole has handled most of the hitters on the Texas roster. One exception to that is Elvis Andrus, who’s 4 for 10 against Cole. Andrus is also hitting .365 with an OPS of .957 during the early part of the season. The likes of Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo have also hit well in April, while Asdrubal Cabrera has hit six home runs despite a modest .220 average. However, Cole has limited the damage done by those players during his career.
Who’s This Guy
The Rangers will send Adrian Sampson to the mound Saturday night. He’ll be making his second start of the season and the seventh of his big league career, as he’s currently taking up residence in the final spot of the Texas rotation. In his start against Oakland earlier this week, Sampson allowed seven runs on eight hits over just four innings of work, so his confidence could be a little shaky.
Coming off a performance like that, the Astros are the last team Sampson will want to see. Just about every hitter in Houston’s lineup is off to a strong start, most notably Jose Altuve, who already has eight home runs and an OPS of 1.019. That being said, Sampson gave up just one run over six innings during a relief outing against Houston earlier this month, so there’s some hope that he can handle the Astros.
Nothing to Win
Most of the time, there’s little upside to picking the Astros to win as -230 favorites. However, that’s the smart play here. Even if Cole isn’t at his best, he’ll do enough to give Houston a chance to win. After seeing Sampson earlier this month, Astros hitters should be prepared to face him again and knock him around a little. Bet on Houston -230 to beat Texas on Saturday.