Astros get big test against Rangers
Coming off a two-game sweep of the Brewers, the Astros open Interleague Play tonight at Minute Maid Park against the high-flying Texas Rangers, who lead the American League West with a 24-15 record. The Rangers have dominated the Astros in recent years, going 14-4 against the Astros from 2009-11. The Astros haven’t won the Silver Boot since going 4-2 against the Rangers in 2006.
Here is the Astros’ lineup:
CF Jordan Schafer
2B Jose Altuve
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
SS Jed Lowrie
RF Brian Bogusevic
3B Chris Johnson
C Jason Castro
P Wandy Rodriguez
Here are the pitching matchups:
Fri., 7:05 p.m. — LHP Wandy Rodriguez (3-3, 1.99) vs. RHP Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32)
Sat., 6:15 p.m. — RHP Lucas Harrell (2-3, 4.40) vs. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 3.78)
Sun., 1:05 p.m. — RHP Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (3-3, 3.63)
Here are some fun facts:
- With the Astros’ pending move to the American League in 2013, this will be the final season these teams will meet in Interleague Play. Since they first met in 2001, no Interleague series has featured more games. And the Rangers-Astros clash is the only one below that doesn’t feature cross-town (or cross-bay) rivals:
Angels vs. Dodgers, 66 (41-25)
Yankees vs. Mets, 66 (38-28)
Rangers vs. Astros, 66 (37-29)
White Sox vs. Cubs, 66 (36-30)
Athletics vs. Giants, 66 (35-31)
- The Astros were 78-71 overall in Interleague Play from 1997-2006, but are just 29-52 against the American League since. Conversely, the Rangers were 82-94 in Interleague Play between 1997-06 and have gone 53-37 against the National League since.
- The Rangers have won 14 of the last 18 meetings between the two Texas teams after going 23-25 against Houston through the 2008 season.
- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve comes up empty only once in every 13 pitches he swings at, which is the second-best ratio in the league behind Marco Scutaro (16.6). The Major League average is 4.6 misses per every swing.
- With a home run Wednesday, Astros first baseman Carlos Lee has as many extra-base hits as strikeouts (9) in 2012. He’s one of the few Astros in team history with a positive differential overall (plus-25). Jesus Alou was a plus-21 and Moises Alou was a plus-7.
- The Astros have averaged more than two runs per game higher when Brian Bogusevic has started in right field. The team is 15-13 and averaging 4.75 runs per game when Bogusevic starts in right and 2-8 and averaging 2.6 runs when anyone else starts in right.
- Through his first eight starts of 2012, Astros ace Wandy Rodriguez has been much more efficient than he was last year, averaging two and a half fewer pitches per inning. He threw 16.5 pitches per inning in 2011, which ranked 77th among 94 qualifiers. This year, he’s averaging 13.9 pitches per inning, which ranks fourth among 118 qualifiers.
- Rangers slugger Adrian Beltre is hitting .358 with 20 runs, eight doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs in wins and batting .162 with one RBI in losses.
- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who doesn’t turn 24 until Aug. 26, has exactly 100 more career hits than any other player who is currently 23 or younger. Andrus has 496 career hits. Next on the list are Starlin Castro (396), Jason Heyward (266) and Giancarlo Stanton (266).
- As you might suspect from someone who is making the transition from closer to starter, Rangers starter Neftali Feliz has tended to be at his best early in his outings. Opponents are hitting .121 against him on pitches 1-45 and .240 against him on pitches 46-plus.