The Houston Astros try to snap a three-game losing streak when they face the Oakland Athletics in the last of a three-game series between AL West rivals on Sunday. The first pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 4:07 pm ET at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland.
Houston has lost the first two games of this series, including a 2-1 setback on Saturday. The Astros are 91-64 and in first place in the AL West, leading the second-place Seattle Mariners by six games.
The Athletics have won two in a row as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Oakland is 84-71 and in third place in the AL West, trailing the second-place Mariners by one game. The Athletics are four games behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who are tied for the two Wild Card spots in the American League.
Even with Saturday’s setback, the Astros saw their magic number for winning the AL West drop to two with Seattle’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. Houston could potentially clinch the division title for the fourth time in five seasons on Sunday with a win in this game and another Mariners loss to the Angels.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi will get the start for the series finale. Odorizzi is 6-7 with a 4.22 ERA this season but is coming off his shortest start of the season after feeling right foot soreness in the second inning of a Sept. 13 game against Texas.
Odorizzi has rested the foot since then and should be ready to go 100 percent in this one. He is 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in three starts in September and has given up a total of six earned runs over his last five starts.
The Houston offense has gone from averaging nine runs a game as the team won four straight to managing a total of five runs over its current three-game losing streak. The Astros had just three hits on Saturday, though two were for extra bases, including Kyle Tucker’s solo home run. Tucker has home runs in two of the last five games and a total of six in the month of September.
The Athletics were able to win in the bottom of the ninth on Starling Marte’s walk-off double on Saturday, but after the celebration of the victory, the realization of Elvis Andrus’ injury hit the team. Andrus scored from first on Marte’s double to account for the winning run, but he heard a pop in his left ankle while rounding third base and could potentially be out for the rest of the season.
“Look, we won a game. That’s good. But we may lose one of our toughest guys,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said after Saturday’s win. “This is one tough (player). We got our fingers crossed that it’s not something significant. But for him to be in that much pain, like I said, he’s one of the tougher guys we have.”
Marte continues to be one of the team’s hottest hitters, though that double was his only hit on Saturday. Marte is batting .297 with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs, 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored in September.
Right-hander Paul Blackburn will try to lead the Athletics to the series sweep on Sunday. The 27-year-old is 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA over seven starts this season.
Blackburn is coming off a loss against Seattle on Tuesday in which he went four innings and allowed three earned runs (four total) on six hits in a 5-2 Oakland loss. In four starts in September, Blackburn is 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA, allowing at least two earned runs in each outing.
Astros Avoid Sweep
Blackburn is going to have a tough time shutting down the Astros in this one. Houston has a chance to take back the division crown against the team that won it last season, and that should be enough motivation in this one.
When doing your MLB betting, take Houston to win on the road.