Two teams headed in opposite directions in the NL Central standings meet up on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, with the host looking to snap a nine-game losing streak. Let’s find out if you should lay the chalk with the visiting Pirates.
Houston, we have a problem
The Houston Astros have lost nine games in a row, beginning their seven-game homestand by getting swept in a three-game set by the Cincinnati Reds. From a baseball betting perspective, it’s very difficult to back such a team, especially when its 2-22 and been outscored by 73 runs in the last 24 contests. The Pittsburgh Pirates have certainly done their best work at home (33-16), but now have a chance to improve upon their disappointing 22-26 mark on the road.
Burnett has turned quite a profit
Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (11-3, 3.59 ERA) has been an ATM machine during the 2012 campaign, with $100 sports bettors making $1,266 this year if they backed the right-hander in each of his starts. He has struggled at times away from PNC Park, posting a 4-3 record and 6.30 ERA, with opposing hitters batting .307 against him. In nine career outings versus the Astros, Burnett has tallied a 2-5 mark and 5.37 ERA, including a no-decision effort in a 8-7 home victory on July 3 (5 IP, 6 ER).
Dallas Kuechel (1-2, 4.03 ERA) will make his first home start since June 28, coming off a pair of losses on the road to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing 11 runs (10 earned) and 14 hits over nine innings of work. The rookie left-hander is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two home outings, scattering 10 hits over 15 combined frames.
Pirates land in an unfamiliar spot
The Buccos are one of the top stories in baseball, but sports bettors will find them in an unfamiliar role in this series-opening contest, considering they’ve gone 1-2 as road favorites of -150 to -175 since 1997. Keep a close eye on the MLB betting odds throughout the day, as the club has gone 7-17 in its last 24 road games when laying less than -150 away from PNC Park.
Houston has been outscored by a sizeable 48-23 margin in the ninth inning this year, something that isn’t likely to improve down the stretch, considering the team traded closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox a few days ago. The Astros bullpen has registered an astronomical 8.56 ERA over the last 10 games, while the Pirates (2.57) rank second in the majors in that category for the entire season.
Pittsburgh fell short of the total in all six games of its recent homestand, but the offense should perk up when facing a pitching staff that has compiled a 6.64 ERA in the last 10 days. The OVER is 8-2 in the Pirates 10 road games this year with a total of 8 to 8.5, while four of the last five series at Minute Maid Park have climbed above the number.
Pick: Over 8.5