The majors' best and worst will collide at Minute Maid Park this weekend when the Reds (80-52) pay a visit to the woeful Houston Astros (40-91). The tale of the tape couldn't be any different for the two teams during 2012.
Browse through the regular season schedule of the Astros and you will likely encounter a monumental amount of the letter "L". They have lost 13 of their last 16 games heading into the series and sport an anemic 7-38 record since the All-Star Break. They are the only team in the bigs to already be mathematically eliminated from postseason play. They currently sit a whopping 39.5 games back of the Reds in the NL Central standings.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati is coming off a 3-game sweep of the Diamondbacks on the road and currently enjoy the largest division lead of any team in baseball. They hold an edge of eight games over the second-place Cardinals and nine over the Pirates. Oh, and did I mention that Joey Votto is all set to return to the lineup on Saturday after missing nearly six weeks?
Here are 10 facts regarding the series against Houston:
1. Games times for the 3-game set are as follows:
Friday: 8:05 PM ET
Saturday: 7:05 PM ET
Sunday: 2:05 PM ET
2. Here are the probable pitching matchups:
Fri: CIN Mike Leake (6-8, 4.51) vs HOU Fernando Abad (0-1, 3.62)
Sat: CIN Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.24) vs HOU Lucas Harrell (10-9, 3.92)
Sun: CIN Bronson Arroyo (11-7, 3.84) vs HOU Bud Norris (5-11, 5.01)
3. Cincy leads the season series, 7-2, including a 5-1 mark at Minute Maid Park. The two will meet once more when they wrap up their 2012 meetings with a bout at GABP next weekend.
4. The Astros have been outscored by a cumulative total of 190 this year. That's the worst run differential in the majors by far. The next closest is Cleveland at -147.
5. Houston ranks last in the league in runs (474), average (.238), slugging (.369), and extra base hits (332), and ranks second-to-last in ERA (4.72), BAA (.273), WHIP (1.44), HR allowed (152).
6. The average age of Houston's roster is 26.2 years old. They list 23 players on the roster that are under 30 years of age. Both are the youngest in MLB.
7. Harrell leads all NL rookies in innings pitched (158.1) and is second in wins (10) and strikeouts (113).
8. Todd Frazier leads all NL rookies in RBI (62), OPS (.907), slugging (.554), triples (6), and total bases (190). He ranks second in average (.294) and OBP (.354).
9. Houston has won exactly two games since the first week at July at home.
10. The Redlegs lead the all-time series by a tally of 436-391-1. They have won 14 of the last 16 series versus Houston.