Astros open series against Cubs
The Astros, who lost two of three games to the Texas Rangers over the weekend, will give the ball to Bud Norris to night in the first game of a three-game series against the Cubs at Minute Maid Park. Matt Garza will pitch for Chicago.
Here are some pre-series tidbits:
- Houston lost, 6-1, to the Rangers on Sunday and has now scored one or fewer runs six times already this month – tied for most in the majors. Despite their 18-23 record, the Astros have outscored opponents 167-164 overall in 2012.
- The Cubs and Astros are meeting for the first time of the season. Chicago and Houston met six times at Minute Maid Park in 2011 and each club won three of those contests.
- The Astros have won their last eight games in which they have scored four or more runs. That’s the third active longest winning streak among teams that have scored four or more runs in consecutive victories.
- Astros starters have pitched at least five innings in each of their last 34 games, which is the second-longest streak in the Majors this year (Padres have gone 35 games in a row).
- The Cubs have recorded a double in each of their 17 road games this season. That’s the team’s second-longest streak (2000) since 1921.
- Cubs outfielder Bryan LaHair is one of two players accounting for more than a third of his team’s home runs this year. LaHair has 10 of the Cubs’ 29 homers (34.5 percent), which trails only Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who has hit 12 of the Dodgers’ 33 home runs (36.4 percent).
- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro will be playing in his 325th career game and is just two hits away from reaching 400 for his career, putting him in some elite company in recent years. Since 1980, the only players to reach 400 hits in 325 or fewer games are Alex Rodriguez (325), Wade Boggs (324), Hanley Ramirez (317), Kirby Puckett (310), Nomar Garciaparra (302) and Ichiro Suzuki (268).
- Starlin Castro has a 10-game hitting streak at Minute Maid Park, the second-longest active streak by any visiting player (Joey Votto, 18).
- Cubs starter Matt Garza has been nearly impossible to hit this season with two strikes. He’s holding opponents to a 0.99 batting average with two strikes this year.
- Astros starter Bud Norris has a 0.47 ERA in May after posting a 5.46 ERA in April, which is a 4.99 improvement. The only player who has improved more from April to May is Seattle’s Hector Noesi (8.83 ERA to 3.46 ERA).
- The Cubs were shut out for the first time this season, 6-0, by the White Sox on Sunday and have now lost six straight games for the second time in 2012 (also April 14-20). The only two National League clubs that have not been blanked at least once this season are San Francisco and Arizona.
- Matt Garza is 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his last four starts and will be facing the Astros for the fifth time in his career tonight (0-2, 3.00 ERA in first four outings). Garza is 5-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 17 road starts since joining the Cubs in 2011.
- Bud Norris is 3-0 in May and is looking to record a victory in four straight starts for the first time in his career tonight. Norris (2-2, 2.31 ERA in four career starts vs. Cubs) has a 0.47 ERA this month – best of any pitcher in the majors with at least two starts in May.
- Astros first baseman Carlos Lee went 1-for-3 on Sunday and is now batting .341 (28-for-82) since April 23 overall. Lee has 38 career homers vs. the Cubs – third most of any active player (Pujols – 53, Dunn – 43).