Astros Series Preview: San Francisco Giants

Five things you need to know before the Astros kick off their third three-game series against the Giants.

1) The Astros are still looking for their first victory against San Fran. In six games this season, they have been outscored 32-12. Worse, the Astros are coming off a 2-8 stretch in their last 10 games while the Giants are 6-4 in their last 10. San Francisco lost a series for the first time since the first week of June when the Blue Jays took two of three last weekend in Toronto. The Giants have scored 5.1 runs a game in the past 10 and allowed 3.4 runs a game.

2) In the past 14 days, the top three wOBA leaders on the Giants roster were free agents signees. Aubrey Huff leads the way at .557, hitting five home runs, four doubles and a triple in 47 plate appearances. The Giants picked up Pat Burrell off waivers at the beginning of June and he's posted 47 PAs since then. In the past two weeks, he's had 38 PAs and hit three home runs with two doubles, while batting .333/.421/.667 with a .457 wOBA. Juan Uribe is the third wOBA leader at .420. The shortstop has three home runs and four doubles in 51 plate appearances with seven walks and five strikeouts. The really scary thing? Both Huff and Uribe have BABiPs under .300

3) The best pitcher on the team in the past two weeks (on the surface) has been Matt Cain. In 23 1/3 innings, he struck out 12 and walked five. His 1.52 ERA is the best on the staff over that stretch, though his 5.11 xFIP shows he's been extraordinarily lucky over that stretch. His .268 BABiP backs that up, but it's anyone's guess whether the Astros hitters can take advantage of that.

4) How can a guy with a .400 BABiP, a .143 WHIP and a 3.43 BB/9 rate be one of the best pitchers in the league? Try a 10.43 K/9 rate with a 2.57 ERA and a 2.17 xFIP. Tim Lincecum is just nasty, even with his drop in velocity on his fastball. Unfortunately, the Astros will face him for the third straight series against San Fran. Lincecum has thrown 15 innings against Houston with 12 strikeouts and five walks, allowing eight hits and just one run. That includes only four line drives in 57 batters faced. Suffice it to say I'm not optimistic about tonight's game.

5) At least Jason Castro won't have too much to worry about facing Buster Posey right now. The stud rookie has a .232 wOBA in the past two weeks with a .186/.222/.302 slash line. That's over 45 plate appearances and includes five strikeouts and two walks. His BABiP is the same as his batting average over that stretch, so I don't expect him to continue producing this little. One of the reasons for this could be because Posey's been seeing a ton of first-pitch strikes. He's currently leading all everyday players in first strike percentage at 70. He's also seeing more strikes period than any other lineup regular. It'll be interesting to see how the Astros pitch to Posey, but I could see him setting that bar pretty low for Castro's expectations.

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