Posted on August 22, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The Houston Astros are one of the best teams in baseball this year. They have one of the best, if not the best, starting rotation. Their bullpen is solid, and their offense is one of the most potent in the game. As a result, they have been favored or one of the favorites to win the World Series all year long.
But that didn’t stop them from making the wrong kind of history for the second time this season Wednesday night in Detroit.
With Justin Verlander scheduled to take the mound and having a Cy Young-worthy season, the Astros were a favorite of historic proportions– some sportsbooks had them listed at -550. Caesars had them at -500 and the Tigers at +435.
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Should have been an easy win, right? The next morning, when fans heard Verlander threw a complete game, struck out 11, and only allowed two hits, they would have assumed the game ended with a win for Houston.
But because those two hits were home runs, and Houston’s offense could only manage a single run.
“Just an incredible performance,” manager A.J. Hinch said after the game, via ESPN. “Just not one that we could help him with. We wasted a really good start by our starting pitcher.”
It was the largest upset in baseball in the last fifteen years according to the database at BetLabsSports.com.
“We took a couple of straight bets on the Astros and a slew of parlays over $500 that had either the Astros money line or run line on them,” Jeff Davis, Caesars Director of Trading, told ESPN.
Coincidentally, it is also the second time in less than two weeks one of the worst teams in baseball recorded such an upset against the Astros with Verlander on the mound.
Back on August 11, a day after destroying the hapless Baltimore Orioles 23-2, the Astros were a historic favorite over the Orioles. With Verlander taking the mound in that game, they closed at Caesars at -460; the Orioles closed at +420. While he only lasted five innings in that game, Verlander still recorded 11 strikeouts. But he also gave up nine hits and four runs.
When he left the game, Houston was down 4-3. However, with three runs in the ninth, they were able to take the lead. But then the Orioles recorded three of their own in the ninth to record the upset win, 8-7.
As shocking as both upset wins may be, they are a prime example of how any team can win on any given day in baseball (as cliché as that sounds). Because even the best teams will have days where everyone struggles at the plate. It is to be expected in a game where the best hitters fail to record a hit 70 percent of the time.
But on days like that, it just takes a couple of good hits to get the job done—which is all the Tigers got.
With the odds being what they were, many sportsbooks reported taking quite a bit of action on the Tigers. While the Astros do not play the Orioles (38 wins) or Tigers (41 wins) again, they do face a pretty bad Mariners (54 wins) team in early September and a bad Toronto (52 wins) team to close out August.
Verlander will likely pitch against both. It will be interesting to see what kind of action those games see.