Colorado Rockies vs. Houston Astros Preview and Pick – Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Roy Oswalt

Colorado Rockies (19-20) Ubaldo Jimenez, at Houston Astros (14-26)
Roy Oswalt, Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas, 8:05 PM EST,
Thursday, May 20th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Rockies -140/Astros +130
Total: 6.5

If youre a spectator at tonights series finale between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park you better like
the person youre sitting next to, because you should have plenty of
time to talk with the Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez and the Astros Roy
throwing darts off the mound.

The Astros snapped a five-game losing streak in last nights opener
of the short two-game set with Colorado, winning 7-3 by scoring four
runs in the eighth keyed by a Jeff Keppingers bases-clearing double.

Houston also cleared house after the game, as Keppingers 4-RBI game
gave the Astros the perfect excuse to released the player he has
replaced at second base, Kaz Matsui, eating the final year of his 3-
year, 16.5-million contract in the process. With a glimmer of
momentum the Astros hope to start a win streak by handing the ball to
their ace Oswalt, who has pitched well with little to no support from
his offense.

For the Rockies they look to Jimenez to stop a mini three-game slide that started in Chicago against the Cubs before last nights loss.
The Rockies potent offense has not been scoring runs lately (2.6 per
game last five games) and last night their second error of the game
fueled the Astros 4-run eighth, so theyre just not playing good
baseball the last few days.

Colorados recent struggles didnt sway oddsmakers from releasing
them with Jimenez pitching as -170 favorites on the overnight line
late last night, but those struggles might explain why the number has
dropped all the way to -145 or -140 at most offshore sportsbooks on
the Web. The Astros can be found as high as +130 underdogs at books
with dimelines, but most places are listing it at a +125 value with
Oswalt tossing.

The over/under total opened at 6.5 and is still listed at that low
number at most sportsbooks, but a few of the offshore books have
dropped the total to 6 with extra juice on the over (-120 to -125).

That total is set so low because both players have dominated off the
mound in the Rockies-Astros series in the past.

Forget for just a second what Jimenez has done so far in 2010 (7-1,
1.12 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) because hes also solid in his career with a 2-0
record in four starts versus the Stros. His splits tell the story of
Jimenez and his control issues prior to this breakout season, as he
has a high OBP in two starts at Minute Maid Park with a .400 mark,
but hes so filthy that nobody squares the ball on the barrel as
evident in his still sub-.700 OPS (.689).

How well Jimenez handles Pedro Feliz will be key, since Feliz had a
very good game against him earlier (3-for-4, HR). But Feliz has been
one of the reasons the Astros are dead-last in most offensive
categories hitting just .218 with 1 HR and 13 RBIs.

Oswalt has pitched better than his 2-5 record indicates, because a
look at his splits (2.62 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .274 OBP) tells a different
story. The bottom line is run support for Oswalt, as hes gotten just
4 runs per game in his wins and only 1.2 runs per in the five losses.

Oswalts history against the Rockies is equally impressive, going 7-1
in 10 starts with a 1.78 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP and great splits to boot (.
276 OBP, .644 OPS). Todd Helton has been a nemesis, going 6-for-25
with 2 homeruns in his career, but the rest of the Rockies have been
held in check for the most part.

The over is 8-4 over the years at the Juice Box when the Rockies and
Astros get together, including last nights opener. Both pitchers
threw at Minute Maid last year (not in same game), and both were
victorious in games that stayed under the total though.

Badgers Pick: The Astros just cant score enough runs, especially
against Jimenez, so Im on the side of Colorado at -140 here even
though I think Oswalt will pitch great too.

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