The Minnesota Twins (28-27, 12-15 away) and Houston Astros (32-22, 15-12 home) wrap up their three-game series with the rubber match on Wednesday night. Minnesota opened up the set with a 7-5 triumph in extra innings and the Astros bounced back with a 5-1 on Tuesday night.
The first pitch of the series finale is at 8:10 p.m. EST inside Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Houston opens as the betting favorite (-170 moneyline) and the over/under run total is 8.5.
What to Know – Minnesota Twins
Minnesota has struggled since the middle of May, losing nine of their last 14 games as the month comes to a close. Even with the struggles, the Twins still maintain a 2.5-game advantage in the AL Central.
The probable starter for the visitors is right-hander Louie Varland (2-1, 4.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP). The second-year pro and Minnesota-native made his season debut in mid-April for a spot start and rejoined the rotation at the beginning of May. In six starts, Varland has thrown 34.0 innings, allowing 16 earned runs on 35 hits and seven walks while striking out 34 batters.
Offensively, Minnesota is 24th amongst league teams with a .233 team batting average while scoring 4.6 runs per game. The pitching staff for the Twins are second in the MLB featuring a 3.44 team earned run average.
The Twins won’t blow you away offensively, but Minnesota has been able to generate offense thanks to some pop in their lineup. Trevor Larnach leads the team with 27 runs batted in while Joey Gallo has a team-high 11 home runs, and Bryon Buxton is next with ten.
What to Know – Houston Astros
The Astros have won four of their last five and are closing in on the AL West race. Houston is sitting only three-games behind the Texas Rangers for the top spot in the standings.
Righty Hunter Brown (5-1, 3.12 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) is set to toe the rubber for the Astros. Brown has been solid in his first full season in the majors and has logged quality starts in his last two trips to the mound. The 24-year-old has tallied 57.2 innings, surrendering 20 earned runs, 51 hits, 18 walks, and generated 66 strike outs.
On offense, the Astros are 18th in the majors hitting .245 as a team and scoring 4.5 runs per contest.
Houston’s pitching staff ranks first in the MLB with a 3.21 team ERA.
Yordan Alvarez has been an unstoppable force at the dish through two months of the season, ranking 6th in the majors with 14 home runs and second with 48 RBIs. Kyle Tucker is also having a solid year, smacking seven home runs, driving in 33 RBIs, and leading the team with seven stolen bases.
The Pick is In
Houston and Minnesota are two teams that have a good chance to meet up again in the postseason thanks to their elite pitching. The Astros have the better offensive lineup right now, and that will be the deciding factor in the series rubber match.
The Pick: Houston Astros ML