Astros face Royals in Interleague Play

Coming off a nine-game road trip (3-6), the Astros are probably happy to return to Minute Maid Park, but they’re facing a Royals team that hasn’t played poorly when playing away from home. The Astros are 18-14 at home and 9-25 on the road, and the Royals are 11-20 at home and 18-15 on the road.

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

SS Brian Bixler

CF Justin Maxwell

1B Carlos Lee

LF J.D. Martinez

3B Chris Johnson

RF Matt Downs

C Chris Snyder

P J.A. Happ

  • Astros first baseman Carlos Lee, who returned from the disabled list on Sunday and will celebrate his 36th birthday on Wednesday, is exhibiting arguably the finest bat control of his career, with over five hits for every strikeout. He has 59 hits and 11 strikeouts, for a 5.36 ration that leads the Majors.
  • Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is on pace to become one of the few National League second basemen since 1985 to lead his team in singles, doubles and triples. The only others to do that are the Dodgers’ Steve Sax (1986), the Astros’ Craig Biggio (1994), the Giants’ Jeff Kent (2000) and the Pirates Freddy Sanchez (2007).
  • Astros pitcher J.A. Happ features an impressive strikeout rate for a pitcher with a losing record. He’s 4-7, but is averaging 9.41 strikeouts per game. Happ’s strikeout rate is the second highest ever by an Astros left-hander (minimum 5 starts).  Randy Johnson averaged 12.38 strikeouts per nine innings while going 10-1 after joining the Astros in midseason 1998.
  • After matching his own team record with five bases on balls on Sunday, Alex Gordon has reached base 40 times since May 27, a total only one other hitter exceeds. Joey Votto has reached base in 45 times in that span. And with 20 doubles and 39 walks in 2012, Gordon is on the verge of joining Joey Votto (28, 54) and David Wright (22, 43) as the only players to total at least 20 and 40, respectively, this season.
  • Despite a 5.93 ERA over seven starts, Jonathan Sanchez has done a terrific job controlling the lead-off batter of each inning. Lead-off hitters are batting .111 (3-for-27) against him. However, after the leadoff hitter of each inning, Sanchez has permitted a .315 (29/92) batting average.
  • Since MLB split into three divisions in each league in 1994, only one team has removed as many base-stealers per game as this year’s Royals. The Royals have thrown out 46.9 percent of base-stealers (30 of 64), which is second only to the 1994 Twins (46.9).

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