The Cleveland Indians go for a third straight win when they take on the host Houston Astros in the first of a three-game series on Monday night. The series opener is scheduled for an 8:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Cleveland took the final two games of a weekend series against the Oakland Athletics, including a 4-2 win on Sunday. The Indians improved to 47-43 with the victory and are in second place in the AL Central. They trail the first-place Chicago White Sox by eight games, and lead the third-place Detroit Tigers by six.
The Astros dropped the last two games of a series against the White Sox over the weekend, scoring one run total in the pair of losses. Houston is 56-38 and in first place in the AL West, leading the second-place Athletics by 3½ games and the third-place Seattle Mariners by six games.
The MLB odds for the series opener have the Astros with a moneyline of -210, while the Indians are listed at +180. The over/under for Monday’s game is set at nine runs.
Looking to Improve
The Indians will have right-hander J.C. Mejia on the mound for the series opener, as the 24-year-old rookie tries to snap a personal four-game losing streak. Mejia is 1-4 with a 7.42 ERA, striking out 27 and walking 11 in 30⅓ innings of work this season.
Mejia is 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA in two starts in July, allowing a total of 12 runs and three home runs over 6⅔ innings. His last start was against Tampa Bay on July 7, as he went 2⅔ innings and gave up six runs on four hits, including a home run, while striking out two and walking two.
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer is all of a sudden a power hitter, hitting two home runs over the three-game series against the Athletics, his first two homers of the season. Zimmer drove in three and went 3-for-5 in Sunday’s win, hitting All-Star Chris Bassitt’s first pitch over the wall.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but yeah, that’s exactly what I was looking for,” Zimmer said of his opening home run. “That immediately puts momentum on our side.”
Third baseman Jose Ramirez was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Sunday’s game, but he still leads the Indians with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs. Ramirez also has 18 doubles and a team-high 61 runs scored while batting .257.
Needing To Rebound
The Astros can thank the Indians for handing the Athletics a pair of losses over the weekend, as the Houston offense disappeared in the final two games against Chicago. They were the team’s only two losses in seven games against the White Sox this year.
Right-hander Zack Greinke will get the start on Monday, his 20th of the season. The 37-year-old is 8-3 with a 3.59 ERA, striking out 85 and walking 23 over 115⅓ innings of work.
Greinke took a no-decision in his only start against the Indians this season. Going 7⅔ innings and allowing three runs on five hits, he allowed two home runs while striking out eight and walking one in a 10-inning Houston win on July 4. Greinke’s last start was on July 10 against the Yankees, as he took a loss after allowing just one run on three hits over four innings in a 1-0 Astros setback.
Houston managed just a solitary hit in Sunday’s loss to the White Sox, a single by third baseman Abraham Toro. — even worse than the three hits earned in a 10-1 loss on Saturday.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel was 0-for-7 with two strikeouts in the two games, dropping his batting average to .311, which ranks 11th in baseball. Gurriel also has 20 doubles, 10 home runs, 56 RBIs and 45 runs scored this season.
Second baseman Jose Altuve was just 2-for-13 in the three-game set, scoring a run but striking out twice. He’s batting .273 with a team-high 20 home runs along with 55 RBIs and 66 runs scored.
Houston swept the four-game series played in Cleveland over the July 4 weekend, though the last two games were one-run affairs. The Indians are 23-24 on the road this season after taking two of three from Oakland, while the Astros have gone 29-19 at Minute Maid Park in 2021.
The Indians will send Triston McKenzie (1-3, 5.47 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday’s game before finishing up with Eli Morgan (1-3, 7.86) on Wednesday. The Astros will counter with Luis Garcia (6-5, 3.06) and Lance McCullers Jr. (7-2, 2.80).
Houston sits as the overwhelming favorite to win the series at a -300 price. Buyback on the Indians is set at +220.
Astros Win Opener
Houston is chomping at the bit to get back in action after a rough couple of games against the White Sox. The Astros should come out swinging looking to make up for the offensive drought over the weekend and will take the series opener with ease.
When doing your MLB picks, take Houston to get the win at home.