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Houston Astros vs. Cincinnati Reds Free Pick - 9/17/13

Cincinnati Reds (85-66) at Houston Astros (51-99)

MLB Baseball: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm (Minute Maid Park)

Mike Leake (R) (13-6) (3.350) vs. Jordan Lyles (R) (7-7) (4.884)

The Line: Houston Astros +146 / Cincinnati Reds -166 --- Over/Under: 8.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: FS-Ohio, CSN-Houston

The Houston Astros look to even their series with Cincinnati at Minute Maid Park.

Even though the Reds look like a lock for a Wild Card berth, I'm sure the National League Central title is still foremost on their minds. Cincinnati still has plenty of time to make a run at the division crown but with both Pittsburgh and St Louis ahead of them they will need some help along the way. Help did arrive Monday in the form of Jonny Cueto who was fantastic in his first outing off the disabled list with five scoreless innings of a 6-1 victory over Houston. The bats made sure that was a winning effort with Zack Cosart going deep and driving in four while Jay Bruce knocked in two more. Cincinnati pins their hopes of staying in the Central race on Mike Leake Tuesday. Leake had suffered through a four game rough patch but has logged consecutive victories with two runs given up in 13.1 frames.

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Houston Astros vs. Cincinnati Reds Free Pick - 9/17/13

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The goals for Houston in the final weeks of the regular season are modest and might not be realistic. Avoiding a 100+ loss season means the team will have to go on their hottest streak of 2013 and beat some good teams along the way. The Stros will likely beat some good teams but avoiding triple digits in the loss column is too much to ask. They'll certainly need better hitting and pitching then we saw Monday with Erik Bedard giving up four runs over four innings with Lucas Harrell allowing two more. That was too much for the bats which manged an RBI ground out from Matt Dominguez. Houston is scheduled to start Jordan Lyles against the big bats of Cincinnati. Lyles had been struggling but has enjoyed a hot streak where he has logged three consecutive quality outings for the first time in 2013.

Cincinnati has advantages in all areas here and have the postseason as incentive but Lyles is hot which makes laying the juice a scary proposition but I'll still go with visitors with so much at stake...

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