Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Wednesday's Tip Sheet

Astros (-130, 9 ½) at Indians – 7:10 PM EST

Houston swept Cleveland out of the American League Division Series last season in three games as these two teams could meet again in the 2019 postseason. The Astros (69-39) grabbed the opener of a three-game series at Progressive Field on Tuesday, 2-0 behind another terrific effort from ace Justin Verlander, who struck out 13 batters in seven innings to pick up his 14th victory of the season.

Following last night’s win, the Astros improved to 10-2 the last 12 games, while ending a three-game skid in road series openers. In the past 10 victories, Houston has allowed three runs or fewer, while pitching its first shutout since July 6 in a 4-0 triumph over the Angels. The game finished UNDER the total of 8 ½, marking the ninth UNDER in the last 11 games for the AL West leaders.

The Indians (62-44) have dropped consecutive games for the first time since immediately after the All-Star break when Minnesota topped Cleveland twice at Progressive Field. In spite of Tuesday’s defeat, Cleveland owns a solid 12-4 record the last games to sit three games behind Minnesota in the AL Central after the Twins edged the Marlins last night.

Cleveland sends out right-hander Zach Plesac (5-3, 3.10 ERA) to the mound tonight as the Indians have won each of his past four starts. Plesac shut down the Royals in his previous trip to the mound last Friday in an 8-3 victory as a short road favorite. The former Ball State standout tossed seven innings and allowed one run as the Indians have compiled a 6-1 record in his past seven appearances since mid-June.

The Astros counter with another young arm in Jose Urquidy (1-0, 4.26 ERA), who has yielded one earned run in each of his past two starts. Urquidy shut down the Rangers on June 20 in a 6-1 home triumph by scattering two hits in seven innings, while striking out a season-high nine batters. However, the Astros couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in his last appearance at St. Louis in a 5-3 defeat despite Urquidy allowing four hits in six innings of work.

Cubs (-110, 8 ½) at Cardinals – 8:15 PM EST

Chicago and St. Louis have met a total of 10 times this season and the home team has yet to lose. The Cardinals (57-49) pulled into first place of the NL Central race by themselves after edging the Cubs (56-50) on Tuesday, 2-1. Paul Goldschmidt hit the tie-breaking home run in the sixth inning to give St. Louis the lead for good, while helping the Cardinals snap a two-game losing streak.

The Cubs have spun out of control lately by losing six of the last eight games, including all three series openers on their current road trip. In all three of those defeats, Chicago has lost by a run apiece, while blowing a lead in each of those losses. Following last night’s setback, the Cubs fell to 8-21 in their last 29 games away from Wrigley Field dating back to May 27.

Chicago will try to turn around its luck tonight with Kyle Hendricks (7-8, 3.26 ERA) on the mound, as the Cubs are winless in his past six starts. Hendricks hasn’t been bad in this stretch by allowing two runs or less in five straight outings, but the run support for the right-hander has not been strong with the Cubs scoring three runs or less during this 0-6 stretch. Hendricks dominated the Cardinals at Wrigley on June 9 in a 5-1 victory by tossing seven innings and giving up one run.

Miles Mikolas (7-10, 4.19 ERA) heads to the hill for the Cardinals, as the right-hander has posted a solid 2.15 ERA at Busch Stadium in 10 starts. Mikolas defeated the Pirates in his last start on July 25 in a 6-3 victory by giving up three earned runs in six innings of work. However, St. Louis hasn’t won consecutive starts made by Mikolas since early May as the Cardinals are 0-5 in his past five outings after a victory in his previous outing. The Cardinals are 1-1 in Mikolas’ two starts against the Cubs this season as both games finished UNDER the total.

Brewers at Athletics (-120, 9) – 10:05 PM EST

Sitting right behind the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central are the Brewers, who slipped to two games behind St. Louis for first place following Tuesday’s extra-innings loss to Oakland. The Athletics (61-47) edged the Brewers (56-52) in 10 innings, 3-2 as -125 favorites, as Milwaukee tied the game in the ninth inning thanks to a Eric Thames home run. Matt Olson walked it off for the A’s with a solo shot in the 10th to give Oakland its third consecutive win.

The Brewers slipped to 3-8 in interleague play after the loss, while falling to 2-6 away from Miller Park against American League foes. Jordan Lyles (5-7, 5.36 ERA) makes his Milwaukee debut after getting traded from Pittsburgh last week as the right-hander is winless in his past eight appearances. Lyles began the season on fire as the Pirates posted an 8-1 record in his first nine outings, but the hurler hasn’t won a start since May 23 against Colorado. Lyles allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings of a 5-3 triumph in 13 innings against Oakland back on May 5 at PNC Park.

The Athletics counter with Brett Anderson (9-6, 4.05 ERA), who was knocked around by the Rangers last Thursday by allowing five runs in 4.2 innings in an 11-3 defeat as a heavy -185 favorite. That loss snapped a four-game hot streak by Anderson, which included three road victories. Anderson has been shaky at home recently by giving up 18 earned runs in his last five starts at the Coliseum, while the A’s are 2-3 in this stretch.

Oakland has won 10 of its last 13 home contests, including three straight victories by one run apiece. Milwaukee has compiled a solid 6-2 mark in its last eight games against left-handed starting pitchers, but the Brewers are 1-8 in the past nine road Game 2’s of a series.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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