Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals head to Minute Maid Park to open up a series with the Houston Astros. The Astros are -115 favorites over the Royals with an over/under run total set at 8.5.
Kansas City has certainly been playing some of their best baseball of the season and stayed hot with a 5-3 victory over St Louis on Sunday to give the team their fifth win in six contests. In this stretch the pitching has been doing most of the heavy lifting although Sunday’s win saw the arms blow a 14th inning lead. Starter Luis Mendoza gave up just a pair of runs on six hits and a free pass with five K’s in six innings of work. The offense had plenty of scoring chances on 13 hits with ten bases on balls with Billy Butler launching his 12th long ball of 2012 while Yuniesky Betancourt connected on a two run bomb in the top of the 15th to provide the winning margin. Jonathan Sanchez toes the rubber in the series opener looking for consistency and going deeper in to games. Sanchez puts to many men on base with 32 hits and 24 walks in just 30.1 innings.
I happen to think Houston is better than they have shown but I also know this team has loads of work in front of them if they are to challenge in the National League Central in the coming years. The Astros fell to Texas by an 9-3 count on Sunday for their third straight loss and eighth defeat in eleven games. Houston is probably not going to reach .500 and their main goal is to stay ahead of the Cubs and out of the division. The Stros offense and pitching has struggled over the past few weeks with both units having issues Sunday. Starter Dallas Kuechel was solid wit a single run allowed on four hits and four free passes over five frames while three relievers gave up seven runs. The offense consisted of an RBI single from Matt Downs while Carlos Lee knocked in two with a base hit. Lefty JA Happ takes the ball looking to end a personal four game slide. Happ’s last two outings were two of his shortest with 12 runs allowed on 16 hits and six walks over just eight innings pitched.
The most noticeable difference in this match up is that Kansas City has been playing the better baseball. Of course, backing Sanchez could mean he gives up two hits but walks six in five innings and has you on the edge of your seat. The Royals need a strong effort from him with the bull pen depleted. I’m backing KC small as a dog.
Kansas City Royals +105 Houston Astros