CLEVELAND INDIANS (20-19)
at HOUSTON ASTROS (29-12)
First pitch: Friday, 8:10 p.m. ET
Line: Cleveland +125, Houston -135, Total: 8.5
The Astros are on a four-game winning streak heading into a Friday night matchup with the Indians.
The Indians are on a two-game losing streak coming into Fridayís game, and this team really needs to get going soon. Expectations were high after reaching the World Series a year ago and bringing in some big name talent. The team has responded with inconsistent play, and that must change soon. A series victory over the Astros could, however, get them going. Houston has been the best team in baseball this season, so it would certainly send a message to the rest of the league. The starters in this game on Friday are going to be RHP Trevor Bauer (3-4, 6.92 ERA, 44 K) for the Indians and RHP Charlie Morton (5-2, 3.97 ERA, 54 K) for the Astros. These guys could not be having more different seasons, as Bauer has been absolutely miserable and Morton has looked like a stud. One trend that favors Cleveland in this game is the fact that the team is 28-8 against the money line over the past two seasons after having lost four or five of its past six games. The Astros, however, are also going to be confident, as they are 23-7 against the money line versus right-handed starters this season.
The Indians can really use a victory on Friday, but Trevor Bauer is going to need to pitch well in order for them to get one against Houston. Bauer was solid in his last trip to the mound, allowing just three earned runs in six innings in a start against the Twins on May 14. He struck out seven batters in that game and walked none. Cleveland would certainly take a start like that on Friday, as the team was able to beat Houston in Bauerís last start against the team and he allowed four earned in six innings in that one. Offensively, the Indians can use a lot more from DH Edwin Encarnacion (.203 BA, 6 HR, 14 RBI) moving forward. Cleveland gave him a huge contract in the offseason, but he has been terrible thus far. After hitting .263 with 42 homers and 127 RBI in 2016, the slugger is on pace for just 25 homers and 58 RBI this season. That must change soon or this team isnít going to be contending later in the year.
The Astros are currently the best team in baseball, and their pitching has been spectacular this season. Morton has been a big part of that, as the righty has allowed three or fewer earned runs in five of his eight starts this season. Morton most recently struck out 10 batters in a win over the Yankees on May 14, and he now faces a struggling Indians team in Houston. If Morton can avoid walking too many batters then itís tough to imagine him really struggling with Cleveland. Offensively, all of the Astros are capable of stepping up for Houston on any given night. C Brian McCann (.276 BA, 6 HR, 25 RBI) and 1B Yuli Gurriel (.280 BA, 3 HR, 14 RBI) are, however, two guys that have had some success against Bauer in their careers. The two of them are a combined 9-for-23 with three homers and seven RBI against the righty, and itíd be big for Houston if they can do damage on Friday.