The Washington Nationals, who were expected to be a factor in a crowded National League East race after upgrading their pitching staff in the offseason, have allowed fewer than three runs per game while grabbing the early division lead. Houston, meanwhile, has been surprisingly competitive out of the gate, scoring four and a half runs per game while getting solid starting pitching from most of its young rotation. Kyle Weiland ran out of gas in Monday’s series opener as the Nationals pulled away for a 6-2 win behind four hits from rookie 2B Stephen Lombardozzi.
The Houston Astros have already played four one-run games this season, with a 2-2 mark in those contests. All three games of last weekend’s Miami series were decided by the same 5-4 score. The team has lost five of six since a 3-1 start, though, while the NL East-leading Nationals are trending in the other direction with six wins in their last seven games.
Astros Nationals Betting
When: 7:05 PM ET, Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports (Houston), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, ERA 2.38) vs. Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (0-0, ERA 3.37)
The Opening Line is: Washington Nationals Money Line -169 Run line -1.5 (+135) Total 7 Click here to Bet at Bovada
Rodriguez owns a 5-1 record in nine lifetime starts against Washington despite a less-than-stellar 4.92 ERA. He will be making his first road start of the year Tuesday after mixed results in two games at home — Rodriguez tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his opener against Colorado but yielded four runs (three earned) in five innings of an Apr. 11 loss to Atlanta.
Gonzalez, acquired from Oakland during the offseason, hasn’t needed much time to adjust to the National League, shaking off a rough first start and throwing seven scoreless innings against Cincinnati on Apr. 12. The left-hander struck out seven without a walk and surrendered just two hits while getting far more ground balls (11 of 17) than he did in his debut (3 of 12).
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1. Washington OF Rick Ankiel is hitless in 11 career at-bats against Rodriguez, while 2B Mark DeRosa is 9-for-28 (.321) with two homers and seven runs batted in.
2. SS Jed Lowrie, one of just two Houston players who has faced Gonzalez, is 3-for-8 with a home run against him. IF Matt Downs is 1-for-5.
3. The two teams split their season series evenly in each of the last three seasons — 3-3 in 2009 and 2011 and 4-4 in 2010.