After the Astros annihilated the Orioles 23-2 on Saturday for their eighth consecutive victory, Houston was believed to be the largest road favorite in baseball history Sunday over Baltimore.
The Astros, who started ace Justin Verlander, closed as high as minus 550 favorites at Station Casinos sportsbook and minus 300 on the run line (-1½), while the Orioles were plus 380 underdogs.
The price didn’t stop bettors from loading up on Houston at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
“All the money was on the Astros,” The Linq Hotel sportsbook director John Lukasik said. “Money line and run line alike.”
Houston (77-41) trailed 5-4 in the ninth before storming back to take a 7-5 lead when Michael Brantley hit a two-run triple and scored on a throwing error to cover the run line.
But the euphoria didn’t last long for Astros bettors. Baltimore (39-79) rallied to win 8-7 when Rio Ruiz hit a walk-off two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Houston closer Roberto Osuna.
“If you’re an Astros fan laying (minus) 450, you want to kill yourself,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “You laid such a big price on a baseball game, you’re losing the whole way and you come back from the dead in the ninth to cover the run line.”
One bettor on Twitter posted that the Astros were his only loss on a five-team parlay. Countless other bettors shared his pain as William Hill won six figures on the game and Caesars Entertainment won five figures.
Highest odds ever
Last season, the Yankees and starting pitcher Luis Severino lost as minus 500 home favorites over the Royals.
“There have been -500 prices in baseball but rare,” said Michael “Roxy” Roxborough, longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker who founded and operated Las Vegas Sports Consultants from 1982 to 1999. “Nolan Ryan in 1979 vs. the A’s. Randy Johnson and possibly Pedro Martinez. Those were home games. Interestingly enough, Bob Feller with the Indians was -500 in the late 30s against an awful St. Louis Browns team. The Browns are now the Orioles.
“But a road favorite that large. Don’t recall that ever.”
Roxborough said the reason for the recent string of heavy favorites “has mostly to do with the bifurcation of MLB.”
“There are big winners and big losers because of the massive disparity in talent,” he said. “The league needs to address it because many of the teams are not competitive.
“Right now, for the second straight year, three teams are on target to win 100 games or more. Only happened six times and last season was the first since 2003.”
Bogdanovich added that the talent gap widens further toward the end of the season.
“At this time of year, the crappy teams are playing all their young players because they’re not playing for anything,” he said. “The other teams have got their studs in there because they’re playing for home-field advantage.”
Despite the Astros costing a $100 bettor up to $550 in Sunday’s loss, Houston still entered Monday as the seventh-most profitable baseball team this season, up $829, according to Covers.com.
The Dodgers are the top moneymakers, at plus $1,704, followed by the Yankees ($1,678), Twins ($1,337), Rangers ($1,253), Giants ($1,210) and Athletics ($1,185).
MLB money teams
Based on bet to win $100 on each game (through Sunday)
Data from Covers.com
Team; Record; Money won
Dodgers; 79-41; $1,704
Yankees; 77-41; $1,678
Twins; 71-47; $1,337
Rangers; 59-58; $1,253
Giants; 59-60; $1,210
Athletics; 67-51; $1,185
Astros; 77-41; $829
Braves; 70-50; $827
Indians; 70-48; $760
White Sox; 52-64; $508
Diamondbacks; 59-59; $129