The Oakland Athletics finally got off the schneid on Wednesday when they defeated the Dodgers in extra innings, 4-3. It marked Oakland’s first victory of 2021, ending their longest losing streak at the beginning of a season since 1916.
The 1-6 Athletics have traveled to Houston (5-1) to open up a three-game series Thursday. Oakland will send left-hander Cole Irvin to the mound, and he’s hoping for better results against the Astros this time around. He didn’t fare well last week as Houston got to Irvin for seven hits and four runs in 4.1 innings. He struck out just two batters and got only four swinging strikes in 82 pitches.
Today’s game also represents a rematch for Astros starter Cristian Javier. He retired the first nine A’s he faced on Friday before a fourth inning that proved to be his downfall. He didn’t make it out of the frame after allowing three hits and two runs. He was relieved after throwing 73 pitches on the day.
Moneyline pick: Astros -165
Houston has won its last eight home openers. Some of those victories began seasons in which the Astros lost more than 90 games, and it’s not a reach to say the 2021 edition is a little better than those squads. The offense is on right now, having scored at least six runs in five of six games. Just about wherever you look in this matchup — lineup, starting pitching, bullpen, home field — the Astros have the advantage. They should extend that home-opener streak with relative ease.
Player Prop: Jose Altuve O0.5 runs (-113)
It’s not the most favorable line in the world, but this still seems like easy money. Entering Thursday, no team in the majors had scored more runs than Houston (45), and no player had scored more runs than Altuve (nine). He has been a lefty killer throughout his career with a .334 batting average in more than 1,300 at-bats versus LHPs. This season, he’s already 8-for-13 with seven runs off of left-handers. It would be surprising if he didn’t score at least once in Houston’s home opener. The Astros are projected for 5.5 runs.
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