The Houston Astros’ us-against-the-world mentality, coupled with a bunch of home runs, has gotten them to the American League Championship Series, but now they must face the Tampa Bay Rays and a former Cy Young Award winner in Game 1 on Sunday in San Diego.
Blake Snell won the 2018 Cy Young and comes into this start lending good length, going five or more innings in each of his past 10 starts and allowing three runs or fewer in eight of them.
The swing-and-miss stuff has also been there for Snell with 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings across the regular season and postseason. The Astros, meanwhile average the fewest strikeouts per game of any lineup in baseball and their pitching will face a Rays lineup that was the only one in the majors during the regular season that averaged more than 10 strikeouts per game.
Both teams have been able to hammer homers this postseason, with the Astros belting 12 home runs in their series against the Oakland Athletics, way up from the 1.4 home runs per game they had been averaging away from Houston this season.
The Rays will send the American League’s second-best bullpen in terms of ERA, and one that in 6¹/₃ innings on Friday gave up just one run to the New York Yankees, the AL’s top team in terms of runs and home runs in the regular season and postseason combined.
With the weather in San Diego in the early evening a bit more moderate than the warm temperatures the Astros encountered under the daytime sun in Los Angeles, it should lead to a bit more of a calm series and a total for Game 1 that is set too high, based on the ALDS.
The play: Rays-Astros Game 1 total, Under 8¹/₂ runs.
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