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Astros to Snap Skid Behind Valdez

Houston Looks to Get Offense Untracked

The Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians will square off on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game set between American League playoff contenders.

Houston (48-33) sits atop the AL West standings, but is just a half-game up on second place Oakland after dropping its last four games. Cleveland (42-35) is in second place in the AL Central, four games behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox, but has dropped three of its last four.

Ryan Hartman of the Houston Astros delivers during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

With both teams looking to get the month of July started off on the right foot, let’s find out which club is offering the best value in this series opener. The Astros are slight favorites despite being on the road. The MLB betting odds for this matchup are live in the BetUS online sportsbook right now..

Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians

When: Thursday, 7:10 p.m. ET

Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH

TV: ATT SportsNet-SW, Bally Sports Great Lakes

Starting Pitchers

Houston Astros – Framber Valdez – LHP – (4-1, 2.11 ERA, 35 SO)

Cleveland Indians – J.C. Mejia – RHP – (1-2, 4.94 ERA, 22 SO)

MLB Odds

Houston -180

Cleveland +160

Run Line Odds

Houston -1½ (-115)

Cleveland +1½ (-105)

Total: 8½

Astros Look to Halt Skid

Houston has lost four straight to fall to 5-5 over its last 10 games. The Astros were on the wrong end of a three-game home sweep against Baltimore, including a 5-2 loss against the Orioles on Wednesday.

The sweep was Baltimore’s first over Houston since 2008. The Astros outscored the Orioles 26-3 in their own sweep over Baltimore last week as part of an 11-game winning streak, but had the tables turned on them this week.

“I don’t think we played down to the competition,” manager Dusty Baker said. “They hit us all over the park and they’ve got some high-velocity (relievers). We weren’t playing down to anything. Teams get up for us. No excuse, they just beat us.”

Houston leads the majors in runs, hits and batting average, but went an awful 5-for-26 with runners in scoring position in the latest series against Baltimore.

“The offense, the guys are — you hate the word fatigued — but they’re fatigued,” Baker said. “It seems like we’re just a hair off, a bit late.”

On Thursday, the Astros will hand the ball to Framber Valdez. The talented left-hander gave up a season-high three earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 3-1 road loss against Houston on Saturday in his last start. Valdez is 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 35 strikeouts in six starts spanning 38.1 innings this season.

Houston Trends

The Astros are 5-1 in their last six road games vs. a right-handed starter.

The Astros are 6-2 in their last eight road games.

Astros are 0-4 in their last four overall.

Over is 9-4 in Astros’ last 13 games vs. a right-handed starter.

Over is 11-5 in Astros’ last 16 overall.

Indians Seek Repeat From Mejia

Cleveland has dropped two straight and three of four, including a 9-4 loss to Detroit in the opener of a doubleheader on Wednesday and an even more emphatic 7-1 setback in the nightcap. The Indians were held to three hits in the second game. Indians starter Logan Allen (1-5) gave up three runs in 3.2 innings to suffer his fourth straight loss. Bradley Zimmer tripled home Ernie Clement in the second to avoid the shutout.

“Logan made some mistakes and the last pitch to (Eric) Haase was probably not a really good pitch,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I thought he made some good pitches, but I don’t know if he repeated them all the time.”

In Thursday’s series opener, the Indians will send out Jean Carlos Mejia. The right-hander limited Minnesota to one run on four hits in six innings with six strikeouts in his last start.

Cleveland Trends

Indians are 6-1 in their last seven during game one of a series.

Indians are 13-4 in their last 17 games following a loss.

The Indians are 9-3 in their last 12 home games.

Indians are 5-11 in their last 16 games as a home underdog.

Indians are 3-7 in their last 10 home games vs a left-handed starter.

Astros Win Behind Valdez

Framber Valdez has been mostly lights out this season. The southpaw limited opponents to one earned run in each of his first four startsand should be able to keep Cleveland’s offense largely in check . Cleveland’s Meija shut down Minnesota in his last start, but was smacked around in his previous startouting by allowing six runs and two long balls.

I’m expecting Houston’s struggling offense to get going while Valdez limits Cleveland’s scoring opportunities. The Tribe have been limited to two runs or less in two of their last three games. The Astros are 4-1 in the last five meetings and 4-0 in their last four games against a team with a winning record. I like the Astros to bounce back from their humbling sweep against lowly Baltimore with a vengeance.

Pick: Houston Astros -180

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