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August 17, 2015 (Posted at 2:00 PM ET)

There are two picks tonight.

#1: Take Texas Rangers (-127) on the Money Line against Seattle Mariners risking 3.81% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Hamels and Walker must start for wager to have action)

With a 3 game sweep over the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Texas Rangers now find themselves just 1.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race. It has been an up and down season for the Rangers this year, but things have recently started to fall into place for this team. Their offense is certainly clicking at the right time of the season as they managed to put up a combined 22 runs over a 3 game series with the Rays. Pitching had been a concern for this team this season but even that improved as they managed to grab veteran pitcher Cole Hamels at the trade deadline.

Hamels is a legitimate number 1 starter in nearly any rotation and yet he has struggled since coming over to Texas from Philadelphia. He has struggled recently however in his transition to not only a new team, but a new stadium and entirely different league. A transitional period was likely with the veteran making the move to Texas so a regression from his no hitter is not much of a surprise. He is still a top level talent and has the capability to shut down an opposing offense in each and every start. Hamels is one of the very best southpaws in the game and that has been something that the Mariners have struggled with this season.

The Rangers also have revenge in mind in this series as earlier this season they were swept against these same Seattle Mariners. This is a completely different series now that it's being played in Arlington, a place where the Rangers have managed to win 7 straight contests. Meanwhile the Mariners are coming off two high scoring battles in their series with the Boston Red Sox including an extra inning game yesterday at Fenway. Not only did the Mariners have to travel after yesterday contest, but because starting pitcher Vidal Nuno only gave them 4 innings of work, the Mariners needed to use up their entire bullpen to get through that contest.

Taijuan Walker has been having success this season for the Mariners, but on the road he has been less than spectacular with a 5.03 ERA. He did manage to have success against the Rangers back in April, however it's worth mentioning that that was the first time the Rangers had seen him in action. With their now being much more film on the young righty and the fact that the Rangers bats are a bit more familiar with his timing and delivery, we expect them to have much more success tonight than in the first contest.

Texas is playing the better baseball at the moment and is the team that has the most to gain from a victory tonight. With a couple of tough pitching matchups in this series against Montgomery and Iwakuma, this is arguably the Rangers best opportunity to pick up a victory. Their bats should remain hot as they come away with a closely contest victory and extend their home winning streak to 8 games. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Seattle is just 18-36 after a win this season!
  • Rangers have hit right-handed starters hard all season.
  • Seattle is 0-13 since July 2010 as a dog after an extra innings road win!

#2: Take Houston Astros (-163) on the Money Line against Tampa Bay Rays risking 4.89% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Kazmir and Ramirez must start for wager to have action)

The Astros have been one of the most dominant home teams in the league this season evidenced by their impressive 40-19 record at Minute Maid Park! During a 19-game home span, the Houston bats are hitting .282 and averaging 5.5 runs per contest (including 31 home runs)! Their offense isn't the only thing that has been clicking recently as their pitching has been nearly lights out. They've compiled a combined 2.53 ERA through their rotation, with starters posting an extremely impressive 1.55 mark over the past eight games!

They will send lefty Scott Kazmir to the mound tonight. The transfer from Oakland was hoping that his transition to the Astros would be a seamless one and although he has continued to pitch extremely well, he has just a 1-2 record to show for it despite posting a 1.04 ERA in four outings! He's lost his last two starts (both on the road) despite giving up only three earned runs in just over 11 innings of work. Lack of run support has been an issue since coming over as he's twice received NO runs from the offense! Kazmir should get the support needed tonight against a Tampa Bay team whose starting pitching was just lit up over the weekend. 

The Tampa Bay Rays, are arguably no longer in contention for the division crown and took a backseat in the Wild Card after throwing up a complete stinker over the weekend in Arlington where they were swept by a direct rival in the Texas Rangers! They are no doubt deflated and disappointed with their performance in 
Texas and now have to face AL West division leaders, Astros! The Rays pitching staff was torched by the Ranger bats as they had a combined 7.88 ERA and surrendered a total of 7 homers while issuing 11 walks. Against an Astros club that has great offense and has been nearly unbeatable at home, the Rays could find themselves in trouble especially since the ball park has a few special spots to be aware of which prompted coach Kevin Cash to suggest they'll likely have extra
outfield practice.

Rays pitcher Erasmo Ramirez was the last Tampa pitcher to record a win. He pitched brilliantly in his last start giving up just five hits and needed only 70 pitches to get through seven-plus innings against the Braves. However, while everyone is focusing on how well he performed in that outing, it's easy to forget that in his previous 3, he had an unflattering 5.12 ERA in those outings. Ramirez did perform well against the Astros back on July 10th at Tropicana Field, however with the venue now changing; we believe the Astros will get their revenge on the right hander. 

Kazmir has allowed 2 earned runs or less in 10 of his last 11 starts and ranks 2nd in the AL in ERA! He is also tied for second in the league limiting opposing hitters to just a .210 opponent batting average. Looking to avoid his first 3-start losing streak in nearly 5 years, we expect the offense to give him the needed run support to pick up the win. Astros need to keep winning with not only the Angels but now also the Rangers in the division race and we believe they'll do just that.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Astros are 40-19 in home games this season!
  • Scott Kazmir is 25-4 as a home favorite of -150 to -175 in his career!
  • Astros are 24-11 in home games against right handed starters this season.

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