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Astros lose 9th in a row at home

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

August 15, 2018 12:09 AM

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Justin Verlander had 11 strikeouts, but couldn't save the Astros from their home skid.
© USA Today Sports Images

Astros lose their NINTH straight at home! The latest from the pennant races in baseball…the playoff chase in the WNBA…and Over/Under surges in the NFL preseason…all coming up right now in VSiN City!

Interleague Tuesday: Astros' free fall continues! As does Boston’s run at history
VSiN’s Jonathan Von Tobel helped put this on the radar Monday. The defending World Series champion Houston Astros…who are always priced to dominate at Minute Maid Park…have now lost NINE straight home games after falling to Colorado Tuesday night.

Let’s update the chart you saw on “The Edge.”

July 15: Houston (-400) lost to Detroit 6-3
July 27: Houston (-270) lost to Texas 11-2
July 28: Houston (-320) lost to Texas 7-3
July 29: Houston (-220) lost to Texas 4-3
August 9: Houston (-135) lost to Seattle 8-6
August 10: Houston (-200) lost to Seattle 5-2
August 11: Houston (-210) lost to Seattle 3-2
August 12: Houston (-190) lost to Seattle 4-3
August 14: Houston (-200) lost to Colorado 5-1

0-9, minus 21.45 units

Oh, before the Detroit series (Astros took the first two), Houston lost three of four at home to Oakland, and it should have been all four. That’s 3-12 the last 15 at home, for a net loss of 24.65 units. (In betting terms, about the same as going 3-25 at pick-em). 

Clearly, the market has been very stubborn about acknowledging the impact of injuries to key players…as well as the vulnerabilities of the bullpen. Hopefully you’re not one of the stubborn bettors that kept betting Houston on “the due theory.” Daily parlay killer. 

Colorado (plus 180) 5 Houston 1 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Colorado 22, Houston 9
Starting Pitchers: Marquez 7 IP, 1 ER, Verlander 6 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: Colorado 2 IP, 0 ER, Houston 3 IP, 3 ER

Justin Verlander took the loss to fall to 11-8 on the season. Tough to blame him. Eleven strikeouts on 107 pitches. This shorthanded offense has struggled to score in a pitchers’ park. Bullpen woes have been documented for a while now. Houston falls to 73-47, and will have to sweat the AL West race until Oakland and Seattle cool off. If they don’t cool off? Things could get even more interesting. 

Colorado rises to 64-55 with the win. Very much in the NL West hunt. Four straight wins for the Rockies against last year’s World Series teams.

Boston (-120) 2, Philadelphia 1 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 16, Philadelphia 6
Starting Pitchers: Porcello 7 IP, 1 ER, Pivetta 6 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Boston 2 IP, 0 ER, Philadelphia 3 IP, 1 ER

Even when Boston doesn’t score much, it wins! Dominating performance in TB plus W even if the scoreboard was tight. Boston could only turn two walks, two singles, two doubles, and two homers into two runs. Nobody on base for the dingers. All three runs in the game were solo shots. Boston is now 86-35, an astonishing 51 games over .500. Philadelphia falls to 65-53.

Our Tuesday “tip” in the New York Post talked about how Philadelphia’s 2018 offense might be a mirage. Their home park has greatly inflated home run counts this season. The offense has exploited that vs. vulnerable opposing pitchers. On the road, ANEMIC! Couldn’t make hard contact vs. Porcello at home Tuesday.  Likely to be an issue in the playoffs. Mirage offenses get exposed by playoff caliber pitching. 

In other early finishers in Interleague or American League action involving playoff contenders…

*Cleveland (-205) won at Cincinnati 8-1. Indians are sure having fun lately against weaklings. 

*Arizona (-175) won at Texas 6-4. Nice bounce back from a Monday loss. 

*The NY Yankees (-205) beat Tampa Bay 4-1. Still 10 games behind Boston in the AL East. As Bob Costas said on the MLB-TV telecast Tuesday, Yankees are closer to being out of the playoffs than catching Boston. Been that way for a few days. 

A couple of games to study in-depth from the senior circuit…

NL Tuesday: Central Division jamming up as Cubs lose, Brewers and Cards win
Chicago is still the betting market frontrunner to win the National League this October. But the Cubs sure are taking their time about putting the NL Central away. A shutout loss to second-place Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon shrunk Chicago’s lead to just two games. More disturbingly, another squash match where the Cubs barely competed. 

Milwaukee (plus 120) 7, Chicago Cubs 0 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Milwaukee 25, Chicago 8
Starting Pitchers: Chacin 7 IP, 0 ER, Quintana 5 IP, 5 ER
Bullpen: Milwaukee 2 IP, 0 ER, Chicago 4 IP, 2 ER

Four home runs for the Brewers helped key the blowout in offensive bases. Cubs supporters continue to fret about Jose Quintana. He has been a big disappointment this season. With today’s poor stats, his ERA is up to 4.46, his WHIP a high 1.38 considering he’s in the league where pitchers have to bat and MLB fixed baseball construction. Twenty home runs allowed. 

For now, the fact that nobody’s steamrollering the NL regular season suggests nobody’s going to steamroll through the playoffs. Cubs were supposed to be that team. Well, the Cubs and the Dodgers. 

Chicago falls to 68-50, still well-positioned for a wildcard if they blow the division. Milwaukee is 68-54. 

St. Louis (pick-em) 6, Washington 4 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Washington 16, St. Louis 21
Starting Pitchers: Gonzalez 4 IP, 5 ER, Gant 5.1 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Washington 4 IP, 1 ER, St. Louis 3.2 IP, 3 ER

Hey, at least it wasn’t a one-run loss! Washington is back to .500 at 60-60. You couldn’t see their uniform numbers tonight because of the big forks in their back. St. Louis still the best team in the National League since the All-Star break. Cards would be a bigger story if there weren’t so many big stories going on right now! Ten games over. 500 at 65-55, four games behind the Cubs for first place. 

One other early finisher in the NL…

*Atlanta (-200) beat Miami 10-6. Easy week so far for the Braves. 

One more quick baseball thing before moving to the other sports…

MLB Pennant Chase: Shorthand for evaluating races on the fly
Wanted to quickly introduce you to a version of shorthand we’ll try to use down the stretch. There are SO MANY teams with similar won-lost records…particularly in the National League…that it can be hard to visualize divisional and wild-card races. Periodically, we’ll present the races using games over .500. Like this…

NL East: Atlanta plus 16, Philadelphia plus 12, Washington even

To get “games behind,” you just divide the distance between teams by two. Philadelphia is four behind the Braves in this measure, making them two games behind in the standings. You can see how much ground Washington has to make up just to get back in the conversation. Maybe the Nats can catch one of the teams in front of them. But both? Both would have to slump to meet them halfway.  

NL Central: Chicago plus 18, Milwaukee plus 14, St. Louis plus 10, Pittsburgh plus 2

This is why we say the Cubs are “well positioned” if not safe for a wild-card spot. They just have to play .500 ball to finish 90-72. Other teams have to work harder to get there. And so many of these contenders will keep running into each other that they can’t all stay in the race into the final two weeks. 

NL West: Arizona plus 11, Colorado plus 9, LA Dodgers plus 8 (pending late finish)

The Dodgers finished Tuesday action after publication deadlines. You can mentally pencil in the impact of their result. Some work to do for this division to get a Wildcard. Could the Nats and Dodgers from our Monday Magnificent 7 both miss the postseason? 

There’s not much drama out east in the American League. So, we may stick with the NL for this shortcut. Should we mention again that Boston is plus 51?! Yanks are plus 31 if you’re wondering. 

NFL Market Notes: Over/Under totals soar this week after scoring explosion 
Jimmy Vaccaro was talking about it with Brent Musburger Tuesday on “My Guys in the Desert.” Wanted to show you the numbers behind the discussion.

Last week, posted market totals in NFL preseason games were centered around 36-37. Historically, it’s not usually a week for great offense. Starting quarterbacks don’t see much action. Many coaches run vanilla offenses. Inconsistent execution makes it tough to drive the field for touchdowns. That’s been the story in recent years anyway. 

Last week…OFFENSE! At least in about two-thirds of the games. Overs went 11-5. Let’s run the final scoreboard sums from low to high (medians in parenthesis).

17-26-27-30-36-40-41-(43-44)-45-45-48-50-51-57-70

Remember, the market was expecting 36 or 37 to be the midpoint. Only four games way below that, while seven hit 45 or more. 

This week the market is centered at 41 (pending moves before kickoff). As Jimmy V. pointed out, a lot of teams are now running pass-heavy offenses even with third- and fourth-teamers. While only six second halves had more points than first halves out of 16 games last week…late scoring is enough to push Unders into Overs. 

We’ll keep an eye on that for you again this week. 

WNBA: Dallas loses NINTH in a row, putting Las Vegas Aces back in control of playoff destiny
Firing its head coach didn’t do much to inspire players on the Dallas Wings. A team that had once seemed a playoff lock lost its NINTH game in arrow Tuesday night. Horrid defense was still an issue. 

Connecticut (-7) 96, Dallas 76 
2-point Pct: Dallas 46%, Connecticut 58%
3-pointers: Dallas 8/29, Connecticut 6/17
Free Throws: Dallas 16/19, Connecticut 18/24
Rebounds: Dallas 30, Connecticut 34
Turnovers: Dallas 13, Connecticut 9

We’ve talked about this for a while. Dallas just isn’t guarding people during this slump. Only nine forced turnovers and an inside shooting percentage near 60% allowed. Offensive shot distribution was different on offense Tuesday. Though, it’s hard to know if that’s because Elizabeth Cambage backed off with a sore neck (first game back after missing two), or because she played fewer minutes. Her NINE shots from the floor were the lowest among starters. She’s usually the main shooter. 

Dallas falls to 14-18, compared to 13-18 for Las Vegas. Here’s what’s ahead for both…

Wednesday: New York at Las Vegas
Friday: Las Vegas at Dallas
Sunday: Dallas at Seattle, Atlanta at Las Vegas

Obviously, the head-to-head game Friday is huge. Dallas owns the tie-breaker because the Wings have already clinched the season series with two earlier victories. So, a Dallas victory Friday puts the Wings in the playoffs. But, Las Vegas controls its own destiny because winning out would mean finishing with at least a one-game edge. 

Sunday could be very interesting depending on what’s at stake for Seattle or Atlanta. Possible that NOTHING will be on the line for the probable top two seeds in the brackets. 

One other early finisher Tuesday in the WNBA…

Chicago (plus 8.5) 91, Minnesota 88 
2-point Pct: Chicago 57%, Minnesota 49%
3-pointers: Chicago 7/15, Minnesota 10/24
Free Throws: Chicago 16/21, Minnesota 12/19
Rebounds: Chicago 28, Minnesota 32
Turnovers: Chicago 14, Minnesota 16

Lynx are playing like their dynasty is over. Seem resigned to a #7 seed. This team used to play like it wasn’t  resigned to anything. Maybe Lindsey Whalen announcing that she would retire at the end of the season was the writing on the wall. Or, they’re just saving energy until a brutal playoff bracket. 

If Minnesota is allowing 57% inside the arc at home to a team like Chicago…well…that’s scrimmage-level defense. 

A quick look at our estimated “market” Power Ratings/ We use a standard three points for home court advantage. 

88: Seattle 
83: Los Angeles, Washington, Connecticut
81: Atlanta, Minnesota
80: Phoenix
78: Dallas, Las Vegas (home)
77: Las Vegas (road)
75: Chicago
73: New York
72: Indiana

We know that the WNBA isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Thanks to those of you who have been reading along through the season. 

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