Blue Jays welcome MLB-best Astros as betting underdogs

Stephen Brunt joins Sportsnet's Starting Lineup to offer his view on whether the Blue Jays should stand firm or have a fire sale at the deadline.

The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to win three in a row for the first time since May when they return home on Thursday to kick off a four-game weekend series with the MLB-leading Houston Astros as +140 underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by

Toronto clinched its first series victory in over three weeks with a 7-6 win over the New York Yankees as a +165 road underdog on Wednesday, but remains buried in the AL East basement going into Thursday night’s Astros vs. Blue Jays betting matchup at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays’ two straight wins halted a five-game losing slide and a dismal 3-10 run that has put a major dent in their post-season aspirations. The club has particularly struggled at home, going 5-10 over the past 15, dropping its record at Rogers Centre this season to a disappointing 20-22.

However, Toronto has enjoyed consistent success against the Astros, going 8-2 in the past 10 meetings, capped by a 9-2 victory as -154 home chalk last August 14. The Blue Jays are 10-3 in their past 13 home dates with Houston, scoring six or more runs in five of their past eight, according to the OddsShark MLB Database.

Left-hander Francisco Liriano gets the call for Toronto in Thursday’s series opener, taking on right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who takes the hill for Houston aiming to build on a 7-1 record.

Liriano has surrendered five earned runs in three of his past four outings, including the Blue Jays’ 7-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox as +149 underdogs on Canada Day, and was tagged with the loss in Toronto’s 5-3 loss to Houston as a +101 underdog last August 12. However, the Astros are just 13-10 against left-handed starters this season.

McCullers is coming off a solid 5.1-inning performance last Friday against the Yankees, allowing just three earned runs and avoiding the decision in Houston’s 13-4 loss as -170 home chalk, but has picked up just one win in his past four starts.

The Astros make their lone trip north of the border this season sporting a major league-leading 57-27 record. Houston opened its current six-game road trip with a pair of wins in Atlanta to improve to 24-5 over its past 29 road dates.

Houston has regularly run up the score in recent road contests, scoring eight or more runs in four of its past seven such games. The Astros outscored the Braves this week by a 26-8 margin, including Tuesday’s 16-4 win as -130 road favourites, and have now won by five or more runs 21 times this season.

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