The Astros (21-23) go for four wins in a row tonight with a tough assignment against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who have the best home record in Major League Baseball. Here are some notes:
- Los Angeles took the first two games between these teams in 2012, but Houston won the last one, 12-0, on April 22. The 12 runs were the most Houston has ever scored when shutting out the Dodgers.
- Houston hits the road coming off a successful home stand where it won six of eight games, including the last three. The Astros will be looking to snap their four-game losing skid. They have scored a total of eight runs in those losses.
- After hitting .254 as a team in April, the Dodgers are at .286 so far this month, which is the second highest in the majors.
- Lucas Harrell is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA at home this season, but 0-3 with a 5.60 ERA on the road. He is still looking for his first career road victory (0-4, 5.27 ERA).
- Clayton Kershaw is allowing 6.13 hits per nine inning spitched this season – tied for sixth lowest among starting pitchers (minimum 3.09 BFP/team G).
- Elian Herrera’s .346 (9-for-26) average since his MLB debut on May 15 is the third-highest by any rookie in the Majors (minimum 25 at-bats). He enters this weekend with a five-game hitting streak.
- The Astros have lost the last four games at Dodger Stadium, getting outscored 15-1 in that time. In that span, the Astros have been out-homered 5-0 and have posted a 3.33 ERA, compared to 0.32 for the Dodgers.
- Both the Astros and Dodgers have shown marked improvement in their win percentage when compared with last season. The Orioles have the biggest improvement in winning percentage from 2011 to 2012 (plus-.196), followed by the Dodgers (plus-.173) and the Astros (plus-.131).
- The Dodgers are off to one of their best starts through 44 games since moving to Southern California in 1958. With the next chart as a barometer, there’s a pretty good chance Los Angeles will win the NL West – not to mention reach the World Series. The Dodgers’ best record through 44 games is 33-11, done five times in franchise history: 1888 (Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers), 1899 (Brooklyn Superbas), 1952, 1955 and 1977.
- Lucas Harrell will be facing the Dodgers for the first time tonight, hoping that his defense can play a little better behind him than it has thus far in 2012. Harrell has allowed seven unearned runs, which is the most among NL pitchers. Dodgers pitchers Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly have each allowed six unearned runs. The Astros have committed at least one error in each of Harrell’s last six starts.
- Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie has committed four errors this year, all with Lucas Harrell on the mound.
- We may see more than a few hits by Carlos Lee in this series with the way he’s batted on the road over the last five-plus weeks. He’s hitting .410 on the road since April 19, which is the third-highest in the Majors in that span (minimum 40 plate appearances).
- Lee strikes out every 19.1 plate appearances, which is the best ratio in the Major Leagues. Second is Marco Scutaro (16.3). Lee has struck out just nine times this season.
- The pitcher most likely to retire Lee in this series (strikeout or not) will be on the hill for the Dodgers in Game 1. Clayton Kershaw has been the NL’s best pitcher since the beginning of last season – especially when taking the mound at Dodger Stadium. He ranks first at home in the Majors in wins (15), ERA (1.67) and opponents’ batting average (.191) since the start of the 2011 season. Kershaw is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two career starts vs. the Astros at Dodger Stadium.