The cardiac Baltimore Orioles (94-56) did it again on Monday night, snatching their series opener against the Houston Astros (84-67) thanks to Cedric Mullins’ go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the ninth. The O’s will be looking for their fourth win in a row in game two on Tuesday, while the Astros try to hold off both Texas and Seattle atop the AL West. First pitch from Minute Maid Park is set for 8:10 p.m. ET. Righty Kyle Gibson (14-9, 4.98 ERA) will get the ball for the visitors, while Houston counters with Hunter Brown (11-11, 4.61).
The Astros enter as -155 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Baltimore at +130. The run total is set at 9.
Orioles-Astros picks: Tuesday, September 19
Day-to-day: 1B Ryan Mountcastle (right shoulder soreness)
Out: RHP Felix Bautista (partial right UCL tear)
Kyle Gibson vs. Hunter Brown
Gibson has been a very hard man to predict this season, seemingly getting better against tougher competition. (To wit: He threw eight innings of three-run ball with eight Ks against the Blue Jays last month, then followed it up with a seven-run implosion against the White Sox the next time out.) The righty is capable of holding any lineup in check on the right day, but he’s also capable of letting any lineup put up a crooked number. He’s been on-point so far in September, though, with consecutive quality starts against the Angels and Cardinals and a 2.84 ERA.
It seemed like Brown was hitting the wall, with an 8.25 ERA over six starts spanning August into early September. The young righty was dialed in last time out, though, firing five no-hit innings while striking out seven against the Oakland A’s. He’s faced the O’s once before already this season, and it didn’t go particularly well: Baltimore tagged him for five runs on eight hits over six innings in a loss back in early August. When Brown’s slider and curveball are landing low, he can have a lot of success; when his command isn’t quite there, though, you’ll see a ton of hard contact.
These are two pitchers that are awfully, awfully hard to predict, capable of giving up runs in bunches when things aren’t right. (These are also two iffy bullpens, particularly Baltimore, who really misses Felix Bautista right about now.) Considering the talent in both of these lineups, and how much Brown struggled in his previous start against the O’s this season, I’m taking the over after we saw 15 runs in Monday night’s game.
Pick: Over 9
Houston was on the brink of a win last night until the ninth inning, and I think they seal the deal this time. Gibson could come out and throw up seven quality frames, but he relies a whole lot on balls finding gloves, and that’s a risky game to play against this lineup and in this ballpark. With the Astros really needing a win, I think they give Brown some early run support and hold on from there.
Pick: Astros -155