Astros, Happ battle Braves

The Astros try to keep their momentum going Monday at Minute Maid Park when they face the Braves, marking the return of former Astros All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Michael Bourn. The Astros are 2-1 and will give the ball to J.A. Happ, who’s making his first start of the season. Right-hander Brandon Beachy will start for the Braves.

Happ is 2-0 in six career starts against Atlanta. His 1.72 ERA in these appearances is one of the lowest by a starting pitcher versus the Braves in the last 60-plus years. Only Greg Mathews (1.21) and Paul Maholm (1.58) have lower ERA as starters against the Braves since 1950 (minimum six starts).

Before we get to the lineups, here are some pregame tidbits:

  • The Astros and Braves are two of the youngest teams in the Majors. The Astros are 27 years, 334 days old, and the Braves are 28 years, 103 days old. The only team younger than the Astros is the Royals, who are 27 years, 159 days old.
  • Carlos Lee is a career .363 hitter when he puts the first pitch of an at-bat into play, and only a handful of active players have had more first-pitch hits than Lee since his debut season of 1999: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Todd Helton,  Lance Berkman.
  • The Braves have gone 10-2 (.883) against the Astros in the last two seasons. That’s the best winning percentage by any team against the Astros in that span (minimum four games).
  • Atlanta pitchers have posted a 2.70 ERA against Houston since the start of the 2010 season.
  • Astros starting pitchers have a 0.89 ERA through three games with three quality starts. Last year, Astros starters posted a 7.80 ERA through the team’s first three games with one quality start.
  • Brandon Beachy, who starts Monday for the Braves, held opponents to a .220 batting average on the road last season. That was the fourth-best road average against in the NL last year.

Here are Monday’s lineups:

ASTROS

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF Travis Buck

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

SS Marwin Gonzalez

LHP J.A. Happ

BRAVES

CF Michael Bourn

LF Martin Prado

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

1B Freddie Freeman

RF Matt Diaz

3B Juan Francisco

SS Tyler Pastornicky

RHP Brandon Beachy

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