Results tagged ‘ preview ’

Astros-Pirates preview

The Astros and Pirates open a three-game series today at PNC Park. Over the last month, both teams have struggled. Well, the Astros have struggled for the past three months, but the Pirates are really sucking air.

Since Aug. 3, the Astros are 6-22, which is the worst record in the Majors in that span. The Cubs are next at 8-22 and the Pirates have the third-worst record at 10-19.

Here are some more notes on the Astros and Pirates:

— The Astros enter the series with just 13 wins in 66 road games this year. In 1979, Astros pitcher Joe Niekro won 13 games on the road, going 13-7 with a 3.32 ERA.

— The Pirates are enjoying the best home season they’ve had in decades. They have a .606 winning percentage at home, which is their best since posting a .654 winning percentage at home in 1992. They have a 2.98 ERA at home, the best since a 2.79 ERA in 1984.

— There’s quite a disparity between the ages of the Astros’ and Pirates’ rosters. The Astros’ average age is 26 years, 255 days, which is the youngest in the Majors. The Pirates are 28 years, 309 days, which is the 15th oldest in the Majors.

— Brett Wallace has an unusual breakdown for the Astros: all of his home runs have come on the road, but his batting average is much higher at Minute Maid Park than it is away from home. He’s hitting .317 at home with no home runs and .237 on the road with six home runs.

— In his two impressive Major League seasons, Astros 2B Jose Altuve has not been able to figure out Pirate pitching. He’s hitting .230 (14-for-61) in his career against the Pirates, which is the lowest of any NL Central opponent.

— Edgar Gonzalez last pitched in an MLB game in August 2011 for Colorado, and hasn’t started a big-league contest since September 2009 while with Oakland. His career has been a pretty extensive odyssey. He was with the D-backs from 2003-08 and was sent down eight times. He pitched for the A’s in 2009 and was signed by the Dodgers, Rays and Rockies in 2010-11, pitching in one Major League game. Since November, he has been signed by the A’s, Rockies and Astros.

Astros-Mets preview

The Astros open a three-game series against the Mets tonight in New York in what will be their final visit to Citi Field as a member of the National League.

Here are some tidbits:

— The Astros are 3-0 against the Mets and 36-86 against all other teams. In sweeping the Mets in Houston earlier this year, the Astros averaged six runs per game, hit .316 and posted a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings.

— No team in baseball currently features a roster with as many players on the right side of 30 than do the Astros. Houston 23 players who are 29 or younger, and the Indians, Royals and A’s have 21.

— While Jose Altuve is no higher than tied for 40th  in the Majors with 68 runs scored, he’s accounted for a hefty portion of his team’s total. Altuve has scored 14.7 percent of the Astros runs this year, which is third behind Andrew McCutchen (16.9), Mike Trout (16.7) and Melky Cabrera (15.6). Michael Bourn has also scored 14.7 of the Braves’ runs.
— Brett Wallace has tended to have greater success starting than extending innings. Wallace is hitting .393 with no outs, .318 with one out and .156 with two outs.

— As long as they don’t get to two strikes, current Astros Justin Maxwell and Tyler Greene have hit over .400. Maxwell is hitting .427 with less than two strikes and .092 with two strikes, a -.334 difference that’s second in the Majors. Greene is right behind him at -.312 with a .409 average with less than two strikes and .097 with two strikes.

— Jordan Lyles has tended to pitch quite effectively through the first three innings, before then hitting a wall. He has a 2.83 ERA this year in the first three innings and an 8.88 ERA innings four and beyond. Approached another way, Lyles has surrendered a .227 (45/198) average through 45 pitches, compared to .351 (80/228) thereafter, the largest increase (+.124) in MLB (minimum 100 innings pitched).


Astros try to snap road skid against Padres

The Astros will carry their 13-game road losing streak into San Diego for a four-game series beginning tonight at PETCO Park. Houston will send J.A. Happ to the mound in an attempt to avoid tying the franchise-long losing streak of 14 games, set in 1968-69 and equaled in 1996-97.

The Astros are 1-13 since June 28, which is the worst record in baseball in that span. The Padres are 9-5 since that date, which is tied for the sixth-best record in baseball.

Here are the pitching match-ups:

MondayLHP J.A. Happ (6-9, 5.14) vs. RHP Kip Wells (1-2, 2.50)
Tuesday RHP Jordan Lyles (2-5, 5.08) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 7.41)
Wednesday LHP Wandy Rodriguez (7-7, 3.51) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (6-10, 3.83)
ThursdayRHP Lucas Harrell (7-6, 4.43) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (5-7, 3.69)

Here are some pre-series tidbits:

  • The Astros have posted a 5.52 ERA on the road, which is the highest by any NL team since the 2009 Pirates. The Padres average 2.98 runs per game at home, which is the lowest in the NL this season.
  • The Astros have a .205 road winning percentage (9-35), lowest by any MLB team since the 1945 Philadelphia A’s had a .171 mark (13-63).
  • Over the last four weeks, the Astros’ offense has been a feast-or-famine proposition. Since June 19, the Astros have scored 27 runs in their five wins (5.4 runs per game) and 35 runs in their 17 losses (2.1 runs per game).
  • After a rough stretch in the first week of July, the Houston bullpen has righted the ship. Astros relievers posted a 8.38 ERA from July 2-4 and a 3.10 ERA since.
  • The Padres’ offense has improved with each month of the 2012 season. They averaged 3.13 runs per game in April, 3.29 in May, 3.85 in June and 4.45 so far in July.
  • IF Scott Moore has accounted for three of Houston’s five homers this month. He has three homers in 36 at-bats in July, while the rest of the team has two homers in 328 at-bats (J.D. Martinez and Chris Snyder have each hit one homer).
  • Astros CF Jordan Schafer is hitting .213 with the bases empty, .276 with runners on base and .300 with runners in scoring position.
  • Only two third basemen with at least 300 plate appearances have higher on-base percentages than Chase Headley’s .368. They are David Wright (.438) and Miguel Cabrera (.386).
  • San Diego’s offensive attack has looked far better in the games Carlos Quentin has played than in the games Quentin has sat out. The Padres are averaging 4.2 runs per game and have a .248 batting average with Quentin and 3.11 runs per game and a .225 average without. The Padres are 15-21 (.417) when Quentin has played, compared to 21-33 (.389) when he has not.
  • Dating to his days in Philadelphia, Astros pitcher J.A. Happ has always been extremely tough when the opposing team has had runners in scoring position. Among active pitchers, Happ has the sixth-lowest career batting average against with runners in scoring position (.218). The only pitchers with a minimum of 500 batters faced with RISP who are better are Johan Santana (.216), Matt Cain (.210), Ian Kennedy (.206), Yovani Gallardo (.204) and Clayton Kershaw (.198).
  • In his three starts this season, Padres starter Kip Wells has also shown an ability to pitch through tight spots. Opponents are hitting .389 against him with the bases empty and .176 with runners on base.

Astros-Giants preview

Coming off their first road series win of the season, the Astros open a three-game series against the Giants tonight at AT&T Park.

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

RF Brian Bixler

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

CF Justin Maxwell

3B Chris Johnson

1B Matt Downs

C Jason Castro

RHP Bud Norris

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TuesdayRHP Bud Norris (5-3, 4.65) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (7-4, 3.26)

WednesdayLHP J.A. Happ (4-6, 4.54) vs. RHP Matt Cain (7-2, 2.41)

ThursdayLHP Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, 3.27) vs. LHP Barry Zito (5-3, 3.24)

  • It won’t be a surprise if runs are hard to come by for both teams in the series. This season, the Giants’ home park has been as pitcher friendly as it ever has. AT&T Park is averaging only 5.94 runs per game this year, which is the second-fewest this year behind PNC Park (5.63).
  • The Giants’ lack of home run production at home this season has been extraordinary. It’s comparable to a few Astros’ seasons in the cavernous Astrodome. San Francisco has hit only six home runs in its first 32 home games. That’s tied for the fourth fewest since 1961 in that many games. The Padres hit three homers through 32 home games in 1981, and the Astros hit four through 32 home games in 1971 and again in 1984.
  • Giants previous low through both 32 and 33 home games is eight home runs in 1980. Their current16-game streak at home without a homer is the longest streak by a team since the 1990 Astros went 16 straight games with zero homers at the Astrodome.
  • The Astros have played like a contending team at Minute Maid Park, but are still in the process of bringing that same degree of success on the road with them. Houston’s 8-20 record on the road is easily the worst in the Majors among teams with winning home records. The next worst is the Mets, who are 13-17 on the road.
  • The Astros are nearly automatic in one-run games at home, not so on the road. They are 7-1 in one-run games at home and 2-9 in one-run games on the road.
  • The Astros have won four of their last seven games after losing each of their previous eight contests. Houston has just eight wins in 28 road games this season.
  • Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie, who leads the Astros with 12 home runs this season, has homered in three of his last four games. Lowrie’s 12 homers are the most among all ML shortstops this season.
  • Lowrie’s 12 home runs are the most homers by an Astros middle infielder through 60 games in team history. Craig Biggio had 11 homers through 60 games in 1993.
  • Dating to last season, Astros pitcher Bud Norris has been consistently inconsistent away from home, while Giants Madison Bumgarner has owned the opposition at his home yard.Norris is 2-3 with a 6.45 ERA in his last 10 road starts, and Bumgarner is 9-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his last 10 home starts.
  • The Astros certainly don’t have the offense to blame for their recent struggles in the win column. Houston has been one of the top five hitting teams in the majors over the past few weeks. The Astros are averaging 5.54 runs per game since May 28, which ranks fourth in the Majors.
  • The Giants’ Melky Cabrera has 87 hits through 61 games, which is the second-most in that span in Giants history since 1958. Willie Mays had 92 hits through 61 games in 1958.
  • The Giants, who have split their last six games overall, have won five of their last seven home games against the Astros.
  • Madison Bumgarner is 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in five home starts this season and is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in two career starts against Houston.
  • Houston has lost each of Bud Norris’ last three starts after winning eight of his first nine starts of the season. Norris has 76 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings this season.The Giants have failed to hit a home run in each of their last 16 home games – matching the longest any Major League team has gone without a homer at home since the 1990 Astros.

Astros-Sox preview

The Astros try to get back on track this weekend when they make the first of four trips to Chicago, but this is the only trip to the south side to face the White Sox. Here are the pitching matchups:

FridayLHP Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 3.14) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (4-5, 5.32)
Saturday RHP Jordan Lyles (1-1, 4.97) vs. LHP Chris Sale (7-2, 2.29)
SundayRHP Lucas Harrell (5-4, 4.70) vs. RHP Philip Humber (2-3, 5.68)

Here are some tidbits:

  • The White Sox are 15-4 since May 17, which is the best record in the Major Leagues in that span.
  • By contrast, the Astros are 2-10 since May 26, which is the worst record in the Major Leagues in that span.
  • Despite its recent problems, Houston is hitting the ball much better so far in June than it did in the first couple months of the season. The Astros are hitting .296 in June, which leads the Majors. They hit .250 in April/May.
  • Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is batting .432 (16-for-37) since May 30. His 16 hits during this stretch are tied for the most in the Majors with Ryan Theriot of the Giants.
  • Nine of Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie’s 10 home runs this season have come on a two-strike count.That’s the most in the Majors.
  • The White Sox have more than doubled their opponents’ run production in the first inning, outscoring foes 45-17.
  • Gavin Floyd has pitched well in Interleague Play over his career. He has a 2.43 ERA and a 1.95 opponents’ batting average against when playing NL clubs.
  • But Floyd has struggled of late after getting off to a good start to 2012. He cannot blame lack of run support for his struggles, however. He was 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA in his first seven starts, but is 1-2 with a 11.90 ERA in his past four starts.
  • Like Floyd, Wandy Rodriguez started the season strongly, but is coming off back-to-back poor starts in which he has struggled with allowing the longball. Rodriguez was 4-4 with a 2.14 ERA and four homers allowed in his first 10 starts, but in his last two starts he’s 0-0 with a 9.90 ERA and six homers allowed in 10 innings.
  • Rodriguez uses his curveball 30 percent of the time, which through June 6 was the highest percentage of curveballs in the Majors (30.7 percent). The next highest is A.J. Burnett at 28.3 percent.

Astros send Happ to mound to try to stop skid

The Astros send J.A. Happ to the mound on Friday night at Minute Maid Park against the Reds to try to snap a six-game losing streak, which is their longest of the season. Here is Houston’s lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

SS Jed Lowrie

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

RF Brian Bogusevic

LF J.D. Martinez

C Chris Snyder

P J.A. Happ

Here are the pitching match-ups for the weekend:

Friday: LHP J.A. Happ (4-4, 4.37) vs. RHP Mike Leake (1-5, 5.47)
Saturday: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.49) vs. RHP Mat Latos (4-2, 4.58)
Sunday:TBA vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-3, 3.59)

Here are some pre-series tidbits:

  • Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie has swung the bat well with the bases empty this season, but he’s struggling in some key spots. He’s hitting .313 with bases empty, .243 with runners on, .204 with runners in scoring position and .105 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
  • Astros left-fielder Carlos Lee has seen over 200 plate appearances this season, but he’s struck out only 10 times. That’s one strikeout for every 20.3 plate appearances, which is the best ratio in the league.
  • Astros starter J.A. Happ has held opponents to a .166 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs (second-lowest among active starting pitchers with a minimum of 200 opposing at-bats and 50 career starts), .211 with runners in scoring position, .247 with runners on base and .259 with the bases empty.
  • The Reds had the fourth-lowest staff ERA in the Majors in the month of May at 3.29, trailing the Angels (2.99), Rays (3.14) and Dodgers (3.25).
  • The Astros got very good pitching at home in the month of May, but not so much on the road. Houston arms were 11-5 with a 2.76 ERA at home and 2-10 with a 5.10 ERA on the road in the month of May.
  • Both the Reds and Astros saw dramatic increases in their power output in May. The Astros hit 14 homers in April and 26 in May, and the Reds hit 19 homers in April and 34 in May. The Astros’ 26 homers in May were the most for the team in a single month since hitting 26 in July, 2010.
  • The Reds are 33-16 against the Astros since 2009, out-homering Houston, 60-37, in that span. Houston starters have a 5.18 ERA in that span against the Reds, compared to 3.08 ERA by Reds starters.
  • Reds first baseman Joey Votto is hitting .355 in his career against the Astros, which is the third-highest average against Houston in the Astros’ franchise history (minimum 200 plate appearances). Kenny Lofton hit .373 and Bake McBride hit .361.

Astros-Rockies preview

The Astros, coming off losing two of three games at the Dodgers, will try to get it going on the road today with a rare doubleheader in Denver against the Rockies. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Monday (Game 1): LHP Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.14) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (2-2, 4.38)

Monday (Game 2): RHP Jordan Lyles vs. RHP Alex White (1-3, 5.32)

Wednesday: RHP Lucas Harrell (4-3, 3.72) vs. LHP Christian Friedrich (2-1, 5.09)

Thursday: RHP Bud Norris (5-1, 3.14+) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 5.31)

  • The Rockies are 11-8 all-time on Memorial Day, the third-best winning percentage in baseball on that day.
  • Over the past two seasons, the Rockies and Astros have combined to score 12 runs per game.
  • The Astros are 9-0 this year when scoring four or more runs. No other team in baseball is undefeated when scoring four or more runs.
  • Rockies starters have averaged 5.4 innings pitched per start this year, which is the worst average in the NL. Only the Royals and Twins are getting less innings out of their starters.
  • To that end, the Rockies have posted a team ERA of 8.22 ERA in the fifth inning of games this year. That’s the worst in the Majors.
  • Jed Lowrie is hitting over .300 with zero or one out this season but hasn’t had the same production when it’s down to the last out of the inning. He’s hitting .309 with zero or one out and .171 with two outs.
  • Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is one of just four NL players currently leading his team in all three Triple Crown categories. The others are Adam LaRoche of Washington, Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh and David Wright of the Mets.
  • Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has put up some impressive numbers in the early innings this season. He has posted a 1.50 ERA in the first three innings of his starts this year.

Astros-Dodgers preview

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.

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).

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.

The series will be the first Astros GM Jeff Luhnow against his former team.

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).