Two teams heading in different directions take to the field on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
The Houston Astros have started 4-1 after winning four consecutive games against the Oakland Athletics, which hasn’t been able to get off the mark in 2021.
The Oakland Athletics started their season with a loss to San Francisco before being hammered by Houston. It has been pretty to watch, but fortune can change quickly in the MLB.
Online betting markets will have Houston as favorites, but a desperate Oakland side is capable of big things this season.
Can the Oakland Athletics Bounce Back?
As far as disasters go, 2021 is right up there for Oakland. The 0-5 start puts them in an immediate hole and all five games came at home.
The troubles started when Trevor Rosenthal went on the IR, but the problems run deep for the Athletics. They have been outscored 52-14 in five games, which is about as bad as it gets.
The starting pitching has been awful, including Thursday’s starter Cole Irvin, who lasted only 4.1 innings in his first start of the season. Irvin allowed seven hits for an ERA of 8.31, but he did record two strikeouts and only one walk.
There were signs of quality in Irvin’s pitching, but it’s hardly the start the left-hander wanted. He gets a chance at redemption on Thursday, which should please him.
“I’m frustrated in the free bases,” Irvin told sfcronicle.com after the A’s 9-1 loss. “There’s just some pitches I’m thinking about with the game plan that I got away from and just had trouble commanding. That is super, super unlike how I pitch and definitely frustrating.”
Oakland will be hoping he bounces back because the hitting has also been poor. Averaging only three runs a game won’t get it done. The Athletics had two games against Houston last week where they scored only one run, so something needs to change.
Mitch Moreland has only two RBIs and an average of .167. If he can pick up his production, alongside Mark Canha, Oakland is good enough to get back in contention.
Astronomical Start for Houston Astros
Houston suffered its first loss on Monday when going down to the Los Angeles Angels 7-6. The one-run loss won’t dent its confidence, especially against Oakland.
The American League West front runners are 4-1 and all four wins came against Oakland. They meet for the fifth time in a week on Thursday and it could be a similar result for the Astros.
They scored 36 runs in the four games, scoring nine runs in three consecutive games. The Astros also limited Oakland to just nine runs, which is made better by the fact all four games were played on the road.
Playing at home for the first time this season will only help Houston, which won’t be the most popular team on the road. Fans haven’t forgotten about the signal-stealing fiasco, but playing at Minute Maid Park should be a welcome respite.
The damage has been inflicted by Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman. Gurriel is hitting .500 and Bregman .471, with six RBIs and two home runs. Kyle Tucker has also come to the party with eight RBI and two home runs.
It’s a balanced team and MLB lines expected them to go far this season, and it’s tough to disagree.
Athletics vs Astros Game Pick
We hope the Oakland Athletics can start producing soon, but Houston Astros are the play on Thursday.
After starting the season 4-1 and with the only loss coming by a run, it has been impressive for Houston. Despite the off-field dramas last season, it has been able to knuckle down and produce on the field.
The Astros are one of the most talented teams in baseball, so their record isn’t surprising. Playing at home helps and they could inflict further punishment on an Oakland team that is searching for not only starting pitching, but confidence.