The Houston Astros have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in the ALDS over the Oakland Athletics. This series has been defined by the long ball as the two teams have combined for 11 homers thus far.

Houston has looked great through two games and seem to be well on their way to another ALCS appearance this year. However, it takes three victories to move on and Oakland is going to do everything they can to keep their postseason dreams alive.

Game 3 from the Dodger Stadium bubble is this afternoon where the Astros are 1.5 run favorites with the moneyline favoring Houston at -180. Oakland is the underdog at +110 and the over/under is set at 9.

Don’t Change A Thing

Houston has looked like the team to beat so far in the postseason. They swept Minnesota in the Wild Card Series and are one game away from another sweep over the Oakland Athletics.

In Game 1, they showed that they have the capability to successfully play from behind. They were down early and rallied by putting up a few crooked numbers on the scoreboard which allowed the Astros to display their top to bottom lineup dominance.

Houston’s lineup is firing on all cylinders. George Springer has stood out thus far batting .750 and going yard twice in the series. His effort, along with help from Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve has really propelled Houston to success in the first two contests.

With Verlander injured, pitching was a concern for the Astros going into this series, but they’ve done enough to get the job done. A quality start by Framber Valdez and a great bullpen effort in Game 2 ultimately solidified their win second win.

Bullpen Struggles

Oakland has been powerful at the plate, but inconsistent. They struggled in Game 2, but they’ve shown that they can hit the long ball. In Game 1, Khris Davis, Sean Murphy, and Matt Olson all went yard in the Athletics’ 5 run effort.

In Game 2, Oakland started hot with two dingers in the first four innings, but the bats went ice cold from that point on.

Oakland has fire power, but if they don’t clean up their pitching this series will be over tonight. Going into the ALDS, the one strength that people thought Oakland had was their starting pitchers and bullpen.

Game 1 was handed to Houston because of Oakland’s bullpen failures. In Game 2, starter Sean Manaea got shelled and had an early exit off the bump after 4 and a third innings of work.

Pitching should be the number one issue that manager Bob Melvin should attempt to fix in order to force a Game 4.

The Picks

We know Oakland can hit the long ball, but they need more production besides home runs. Oakland has been unable to get on base against the Houston bullpen, so they need to find a way to manufacture runs.

Homers are great, but Oakland needs their big bats in the lineup to drive in even more runs besides solo shots so getting on base will be vital. They also need better bullpen outings. Houston hasn’t had an issue with Oakland’s relievers, and this will need to change for fans to see a Game 4.

For Houston, I wouldn’t change a thing. Their bats were slightly colder in Game 2 than the first contest, but they were still able to put up 5 runs on the scoreboard while locking down Oakland’s offense.

Jose Urquidy will get the ball for Houston in Game 3 to send his team to the ALCS. The young pitcher had a solid outing against Minnesota in his last appearance. Don’t expect Urquidy to feel much pressure because of his previous playoff experience last season and his team’s 2-0 series lead.

All the momentum is with Houston and in sports, momentum is a very dangerous thing.

I’m taking Houston at +160 and over 9 runs.