For the Astros, it sure is a nice feeling to leave an old rival in St. Louis with a series win.
Sure, it was only a quick two-game stop, but the Astros have managed to regain some valuable ground in the standings. Stating the obvious here, but it wasn’t for the arms of Doug Fister and Mike Fiers along with bat and glove of George Springer, the Astros could have been in an even more unenviable position as the heat of summer ramps up.
Now the team comes back home to Houston to take on another old division rival, the Cincinnati Reds. And though the Reds have fallen on hard times, the Astros can’t afford to fall asleep on a team that may love nothing more than causing trouble for their former division mates.
The first game of this series starts off with Lance McCullers taking on lefty John Lamb. Unlike the Cardinals, who are expected playoff contenders, the Reds are currently in rebuild mode following their 2015 teardown of the major league roster. Outside a few familiar faces, the Reds are essentially a different team than what Astros fans may remember. Of course, Reds fans can say the same about the Astros.
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For the Astros, McCullers goes for his fourth win of the season following his somewhat disappointing start to the Tampa Bay Rays last week when he gave four runs on seven hits and four walks. But he did strike out seven so if he can stay in control against the Reds, and then it may be a pretty good outing for the Astros hardest throwing starter.
For the Reds, Lamb will be making his 19th career start and aiming for his second win of the season. The Reds 25-year old left-hander throws a fastball, cutter, and change up arsenal primarily. He has been known to throw a curveball and sinker occasionally. While his fastball isn’t overpowering, he does generate a fair share of ground balls courtesy of his cutter and change-up The Astros lineup, which is prone to strikeouts, should probably take advantage of putting the ball in play. In eight starts this season, Lamb has maintained a 1.5 HR9 and 4.7 SO9. The odds of the Astros offense performing well seems to be high, but hey, this is baseball so anything can happen.
On paper, this is a game that the Astros should win. However, baseball games aren’t determined that way. After all, there have been plenty of games in 2016 that the Astros should have won, but yet they didn’t.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference & Brooks Baseball**