The Tampa Bay Rays (97-60, 45-31 away) and Houston Astros (92-65, 48-28 home) meet up in game two of a three-game series on Wednesday night. Tampa has already locked up their playoff bid, while a victory Wednesday night or Mariners loss would send the Astros back to the postseason.
The first pitch of the contest is at 7:10 p.m. EST inside Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX. According to the oddsmakers, Houston is a -125 favorite, and the total over-under is at nine runs.
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa snapped a four-game winning streak with Tuesday’s one-run loss to the Astros. The Rays hold the best record in the American League and are closing in on the top spot in the AL bracket. Tampa closes out the regular season with a three-game series against the New York Yankees.
The expected starter for the Rays is right-hander Drew Rasmussen (3-0, 2.67 ERA, 1.04 WHIP). Rasmussen started in the bullpen for the Rays but moved to the starter as the season progressed. The 26-year old won’t pitch deep into contests but is effective on the bump when he is in.
Tampa scores 5.3 runs per game thanks to a .320 team on-base percentage and .426 slugging percentage. The Rays don’t have many holes in their lineup, with a handful of players contributing to its success.
Brandon Lowe leads the team in home runs (34), Austin Meadows has a team-high 103 runs driven in, and Randy Arozarena leads the team in batting average (.272) and runs scored (91).
What to Know – Houston Astros
The Astros need a win Wednesday night to lock up their playoff bid and claim in the AL West crown. Houston had lost four straight last week before getting back in the win column Tuesday night. Following the series against the Rays, Houston hosts a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics to end the regular season.
Houston counters on the mound with right-hander Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). The 24-year old has been lights out in his past two starts, surrendering one run over 11.1 innings of work. Wednesday’s start will be Garcia’s first against the Rays this season.
The Astros average 5.3 runs a contest and leads the majors with a .339 on-base percentage and rank fourth with a .442 slugging percentage. Yordan Alvarez highlights the Astros’ lineup, leading the team with 32 home runs and 101 RBIs. Jose Altuve is right behind Alvarez with 31 home runs, bouncing back from a down year in 2020.
The Pick is In
Major League Baseball is given fans some dramatic matchups to close out the season with playoff implications on the line for many teams. The NL field is nearly complete, but there is still a lot to shake out over the final five days of the season.
Houston would like to lock up their playoff bid before the final series, allowing them time to rest their starters in anticipation of another deep postseason run. To do so, the Astros need to win tonight or tomorrow night. There is no better time than the present to take care of business.
Betting Pick: Houston Astros ML