Monday, October 12, 2020, Petco Park, San Diego, California, 4:07 p.m. ET
Astros at Rays Betting Preview: Astros (+1.5/-164), Rays (-1.5/+138)
The Astros dug themselves a hole in the American League Championship Series by dropping the opener 2-1 on Sunday, leaving 10 runners on base in the process. Jose Altuve’s first-inning homer represented the lone run for Houston and the blast was the third of the postseason for the second baseman, who experienced a disastrous regular season with a .219 average that was well below his established standard. Altuve has slugged 16 postseason homers, second in franchise history behind George Springer (17), who was 1-for-5 in Game 1.
Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. gets the start and he was shaky in his first outing of the postseason as he served up three homers and allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits in four innings against the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. The 27-year-old is 1-0 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 postseason appearances (five starts) and has struck out 35 in 36 innings. McCullers, a native of Tampa, Fla., is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in three career regular-season starts against the Rays.
The Astros rely on their power but will need to be better in their situational hitting as they aim to even the series. Houston had four batters reach on two singles and two walks in a five-batter sequence in the fourth inning Sunday but didn’t score as Kyle Tucker lined into a double play as the third hitter in the inning.
Tampa Bay Rays
Randy Arozarena continued his unlikely role as postseason hero by smacking a fourth-inning solo homer in Game 1, his fourth blast of the postseason to trail only Melvin Upton Jr. (seven in 2008) and Evan Longoria (six in 2008) on the franchise list for most long balls in a single postseason. The 25-year-old Cuban had seven homers in 64 regular-season at-bats and then slugged three solo blasts as the Rays defeated the New York Yankees in five games in the ALDS. Light-hitting Mike Zunino (4-for-22 in the postseason) delivered the tiebreaking single in the fifth inning and the lead held up primarily because right-hander Diego Castillo entered and got an inning-ending double-play grounder in the eighth and followed up with a scoreless ninth.
Right-hander Charlie Morton will be making his second start of the postseason after he beat the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS, giving up gave two runs (one earned) and four hits over five innings. Morton, who turns 37 next month, stated this could be his final season with the Rays as the team is highly unlikely to pick up his $15 million option, though he is open to accepting a lower rate to remain with the club. Morton is 5-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 10 career postseason appearances (nine starts). One of the wins came against Houston in Game 3 of the 2019 ALDS when he allowed one run and three hits over five innings.
The Rays are used to playing in tight games and have won 60 straight — regular season and postseason — when leading after seven innings. Playing at Petco Park also fits the Tampa Bay style and the opener surely won’t be the only low-scoring game of this series.
ALCS Game 2 Betting Pick
Houston certainly wants to avoid falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series so it will certainly need to have more than the one extra-base hit it had in Game 1. It also would help if McCullers can keep the ball in the park after his recent issues against Oakland.
The Rays were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the opener with the hit being Zunino’s decisive single. Tampa Bay will need a better showing in such situations if it wants to take Game 2.
Astros at Rays Betting Pick:
Astros 4, Rays 3
ALCS Game 2 Best Bet
Tampa Bay plans to rely heavily on its bullpen throughout the series with a goal being to keep the Astros from scoring multiple runs in an inning. If McCullers is having one of his big strikeout games and can go six innings, the under looks like a solid play.
Astros at Rays Best Bet: UNDER 8.5 runs (-102)