The Houston Astros are finishing off a six-game road trip this afternoon and hoping to pick up a series win in the process. On Tuesday night, the Astros squandered an early six-run lead and watched the Cubs ultimately come down with a 14-7 blowout victory. “No lead is safe, especially when the win is blowing out a bit,” manager Brad Mills said. The club is 14-11 against the Senior Circuit since June 7, while winning four of seven series over that span. The Astros have posted a respectable 21-17 record against the NL Central this year (+1,060) and the total stands at 14-20 O/U in those games. Playing during the daytime hours has been an uphill battle for the team, averaging just 3.5 runs per game and combining for a .229 batting average. Houston has been very successful in playing games in the middle of the week, coming in with an 11-3 record on Wednesday.
Astros starting pitcher Brett Myers is 7-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 19 starts and has produced tremendous results at today’s venue. His 1.89 career ERA at Wrigley Field is the lowest among active players with at least 30 innings pitched and his personal-best at any NL ball park. The right-hander has an 8-3 career record in 14 appearances versus the Cubs, including a 6-3 victory in his last start against them on June 6 at Minute Maid Park. Myers is 2-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 10 road games, being bit by the long ball in allowing nine home runs in 67.1 innings. Expect the bullpen to receive some sort of break this afternoon, as he has set a new franchise record by pitching six or more innings in his first 19 starts of the season.
Chicago has put itself in a position to win a second consecutive series, after last night’s runaway win. Manager Lou Piniella may have stirred up the clubhouse for this series due to announcing that he’ll retire at the end of the season on Monday. “I want to win as many games as we can to get back in this pennant race,” Piniella said. The Cubs must start improving play against divisional foes, posting a lowly 16-26 mark within the division (-2,070). This is a drastic change from a team that tallied a 322-254 record against the NL Central over the previous seven years (2003-09).
Cubs starting pitcher Ted Lilly will be making his 17th start of the season, 10th at home, bringing a 3-8 record and 4.07 ERA into this afternoon tilt. The left-hander is riding a personal seven-game winning streak against Houston that dates back to July 14, 2007. At Wrigley Field over that span, he is a perfect 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts. He is 2-4 with a 4.65 ERA in nine home starts and 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in seven daytime outings. Much like Myers, most of his disappointing day numbers can be attributed to the home run, allowing 11 deep flies in just 44 innings.
Bettors must always be conscious of the wind direction before playing a total at Wrigley Field, but the pitching matchup suggests a low-scoring game. The total is currently 9 at Bookmaker.com. The Astros are 14-20 O/U in divisional games this season and 7-13 O/U versus southpaws. Don’t look now, but the under is 21-5 in Lilly’s last 26 home starts overall.
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