Oakland A’s vs. Houston Astros

Oakland A’s vs. Houston Astros | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

It’s a very unusual Major League Baseball schedule on Thursday as there’s just one night game and it’s this AL West matchup between the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros from Minute Maid Park – Houston’s first home game of the season. The Astros are favored on the MLB odds.

How to Bet A’s at Astros MLB Odds & TV InfoSeason Series

Houston swept four games in Oakland to open the season, scoring at least eight runs in each and winning every game by at least four runs. Houston outscored the A’s 35-9 in the series with 47 hits, including eight home runs. The Astros became the fourth team in major league history to score eight or more runs in each of its first four games.

It was the first time the A’s were swept in a four-game series since July 24-27, 2017 at Toronto. It was the first time it happened in Oakland since June 19-22, 2017 by Houston.

Why Bet on Oakland?

Will Oakland have first baseman Matt Olson in the lineup? Olson injured his left knee when he slid up against the wall in foul territory on Monday, but an MRI taken Tuesday showed no structural damage. However, he hasn’t played since.

The team may already have lost closer Trevor Rosenthal for the season as Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged Wednesday that Trevor Rosenthal (shoulder) may need surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Rosenthal is currently weighing his options ad is expected to make a decision on the next course of action within a few days. Either way, the hard-throwing reliever is likely to be sidelined for at least the next couple of months. Jake Diekman is the leading closer candidate for now.

The Oakland bullpen has been a problem as it has allowed 12 runs in the ninth inning this season compared to allowing just nine runs in the ninth inning all last year.

The struggling A’s turn to relative unknown Cole Irvin (0-1, 8.31) on the mound here. Irvin took the loss Saturday as the A’s fell 9-1 to the Astros, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk over 4.1 innings while striking out two. The southpaw rode an impressive spring to the fifth starter role in Oakland, but Irvin’s regular-season debut for the A’s was not sharp.

He threw only 55 of 82 pitches for strikes, but on the bright side he didn’t give up too much hard contact as only one of the seven hits off him went for extra bases, and two of his earned runs scored after he left the game in the fifth when his replacement, Lou Trivino, was greeted by a Yordan Alvarez three-run homer.

Irvin had two stints with Philadelphia last year and was 0-1 with a 17.18 ERA in three relief appearances. Opponents went 11-for-21 (.524) but he walked just one and struck out four in 3.2 innings. He was traded to the A’s for cash considerations on Jan. 30, 2021.

Why Bet on Houston?

While Oakland had to play Wednesday and then travel to Houston, the Astros (5-1) have been off since Tuesday’s 4-2 win at the Angels. Carlos Correa ripped a two-run, tie-breaking home run in the top of the ninth inning. After Yordan Alvarez reached on an infield single to lead off the frame, Correa lined an 0-2 mistake from Raisel Iglesias to the opposite field and over the wall to put the Astros ahead for good. It was the lone hit on the day for Correa.

In the second inning, Kyle Tucker hit his third homer of the season. It was the first of back-to-back home runs, as Aledmys Diaz followed with a solo shot of his own. Tucker has five hits on the season, but three of them have left the yard.

Outfielder Michael Brantley should be back in the lineup for this game. Brantley was hit by a pitch Saturday against Oakland and has yet to return to the field. He’s hitting .667 with a homer and two RBIs. Through six games, Astros hitters collectively rank in the Top 5 in both hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. Correa has already made incredible contact this year. His hard-hit rate is currently an outstanding 57.9 percent.

It’s Cristian Javier (0-0, 4.91) on the mound. He allowed two runs on three hits while striking out four over 3.2 innings in last Friday’s 9-5 win over the Athletics. Javier cruised through the first three innings on just 39 pitches but needed 38 in the fourth to get two outs before manager Dusty Baker pulled him.

Last year, Oakland smacked around the young right-hander, who earned third place in Rookie of the Year voting, plating seven runs in eight innings. He had a 2.72 ERA against all other teams. Javier missed time during spring training due to COVID-19 protocols, so his stamina early in the season may not be ideal.

Javier says he’s honored to start the 2021 home opener: “It’s something that really means a lot to me, that Dusty trusted me and has the faith in me to be able to pitch on opening day. “It’s something that gives me the motivation to even take care of the job that much more.”

Game Trends
  • Athletics are 0-4 in their last 4 during game 1 of a series.
  • Athletics are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. American League West.
  • Astros are 5-0 in their last 5 Thursday games.
  • Astros are 60-21 in their last 81 during game 1 of a series.
  • Astros are 58-22 in their last 80 games as a home favorite.
Expert Prediction
  • Astros 5, A’s 4

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