American League Battle: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians

American League Battle: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians

After meeting last weekend in Houston, the Astros and Indians are getting together again this weekend in Cleveland. The Astros won two of three games last weekend and have now won the first two games of this four-game series. The Houston Astros are -115 over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, the Astros are one of the hottest teams in baseball. They have won five in a row and 13 of their last 16 games. At 34-18 on the season, only the Red Sox have won more games this season. Nevertheless, Houston’s lead atop the AL West is only three games over the Mariners.

Cleveland, meanwhile, remains atop the AL Central despite a losing record. Despite sweeping a two-game set against the Cubs midweek, the Indians have only won four of their last 10 games. They looked poised to take Friday’s game against the Astros after getting 6.1 scoreless innings from Corey Kluber. But the Cleveland bullpen gave up 11 runs over the final two innings, as the Indians loss to the Indians 11-2.

Rinse and Repeat

After throwing seven shutout innings against the Indians last Sunday, Lance McCullers Jr. will be looking to repeat that good fortune on Saturday. McCullers had easily his best performance of the season in that game, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out eight. He’ll undoubtedly have confidence that he can shut down Cleveland’s lineup again.

Meanwhile, it’ll be up to the Indians to make some adjustments and get some redemption for their pitiful showing against McCullers last weekend. On the season, Cleveland’s lineup has produced plenty of runs, but outside of a 10-run outburst against the Cubs on Tuesday, they’ve struggled over the past week. Outside of Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez, no one in Cleveland’s lineup has produced much lately, and those two may not be enough to get anything done against McCullers.

Another Chance

Carlos Carrasco opposed McCullers last Sunday and he’ll do so again Saturday night. He matched 0’s with McCullers for six innings that game, but Carrasco was eventually charged with three runs over 7.2 innings. It was a fine performance, but he may need to be even better on Saturday to out-duel McCullers.

Despite a solid performance against the Astros last weekend, most of Houston’s hitters have good career numbers against Carrasco. The Indians will also avoid having to face Josh Reddick. However, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Yuli Gurriel are all hitting over .300 over the past week. The Astros are also riding high after scoring 11 runs in the last two innings Friday, so they’ll enter Saturday’s game with plenty of momentum and confidence.

Keep Streaking

The Astros are heating up, and it’s going to be tough for the Indians to stop them in their tracks. Even if McCullers hadn’t pitched a gem against Cleveland last weekend, there are plenty of reasons to believe he’ll have a good outing on Saturday. More importantly, Cleveland’s bullpen has been dreadful this season, and they struggled again on Friday. Unless Carrasco can throw a complete game, it’s hard to imagine Houston’s bats being contained following their 11-run outburst Friday night. Take the Houston Astros -115 over Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

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