Astros try to keep it going against Cards
The Astros try to extend their winning streak to four games when they face the defending World Series champion Cardinals in a three-game series beginning tonight at Minute Maid Park. The Astros and Cards rank 1-2 in the NL in batting average and OBP, but the Cards are also near the top in pitching and will present a good test for the young Astros.
Here are the pitching match-ups:
Friday: Lucas Harrell (1-2, 4.71) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (4-0, 1.62)
Saturday: Bud Norris (1-1, 5.46) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (2-1, 2.78)
Sunday: LHP J.A. Happ (2-1, 4.60) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (1-3, 6.75)
Here are some pre-series notes:
- Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with six multi-hit games, three homers, eight RBIs and a 1.243 OPS in his last nine games. That’s a stark contrast to his first nine games when he hit .229 with a .614 OPS and no homers.
- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who turns 22 on Sunday, has 13 multi-hit games, which is second in the Majors behind Derek Jeter (14).
- With Lowrie and Altuve, the Astros have the highest combined batting average by a second baseman and shortstop this year at .332. The Yankees’ middle infielders are hitting .325.
- The Astros are 8-5 this season when Jordan Schafer scores at least one run, compared to 2-9 when he plays but does not score. Schafer’s 17 runs scored rank second among NL lead-off batters (Rafael Furcal has 19).
- Lucas Harrell’s five starts this season equal the number he made in his first two Major League seasons combined. He is 0-2 with a 8.18 ERA in two starts against NL Central opponents in 2012.
- All but one of the Cardinals’ 25 games this season has been against NL Central opponents (they beat the Marlins 4-1 in their season opener). Six different Cardinals players have at least 22 hits vs NL Central pitching this season. No player on any other club has more than 20 hits against any division this season.
- St. Louis’ 16-9 record through 25 games is one-game behind their 17-8 starts of 2000, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. They won the division in four of those five years (finishing second in 2010).
- Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse is 7-0 since Aug. 28, 2011, which is tied with Clayton Kershaw for the best mark in the Majors in that span (minimum six starts).
- The Cardinals have two of the most improved hitters in their lineup in Jon Jay and Rafael Furcal. Jay is hitting .415, which is a .118 improvement over his average from last season. Furcal is hitting .330, which is a 0.99 improvement over his .231 in 2011.
- Twelve of Rafael Furcal’s hits have been for extra bases, which ranks second in the Major Leagues among lead-off hitters (Ian Kinsler of Texas has 15).