Excellent production at the plate has the Houston Astros in position to sweep a series at home for the first time in 15 months.
The Toronto Blue Jays are hoping Mark Buehrle can prevent that from happening.
The Astros will attempt to solve Buehrle for the first time and sweep this three-game set from the struggling Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Houston (43-85), owner of the worst record in baseball, have totaled 20 runs in winning the first two games after Saturday's 8-5 victory.
The Astros had dropped 17 of their previous 20 at Minute Maid Park, batting .213 while averaging 3.4 runs.
Houston has a .329 average over the last two games, with four home runs among its 14 extra-base hits and 23 overall. Now, the Astros are trying to sweep a series at home for the first time taking three games from the Chicago Cubs from May 21-23, 2012.
Sweeping the Blue Jays (57-73), however, may be a tall task since they're giving the ball to Buehrle (9-7, 4.23 ERA).
The veteran left-hander started the season 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA through his first nine starts, but he's 8-4 with a 3.19 ERA in 17 games since. He's won his last four decisions behind a 2.41 ERA in six outings.
Buehrle seemed to be headed for another win Tuesday, but gave up a game-tying homer before exiting with two outs in the seventh of a 3-2 loss at the New York Yankees.
"One too many bad pitches, I guess," Buehrle told the team's official website.
Buehrle has won both of his starts against the Astros, yielding one run in 17 innings. He was masterful while tossing a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 4-0 home win July 25.
This will be his first appearance at Minute Maid Park since getting a save with the Chicago White Sox in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series.
Buehrle held Jason Castro hitless in four at_bats - fanning him twice - last month. However, the catcher enters this matchup hitting .371 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 19 games.
Castro has four hits in this series after going 3 for 3 with two homers and three RBIs Saturday. His 17 homers have matched the team's single-season record for a catcher, set by John Bateman in 1966.
"The biggest thing that I've really been trying to do this year is stay as consistent as possible and really not deviate from my approach," Castro said. "I've tried to be as simple as possible and it's worked out so far."
The Astros will send Dallas Keuchel (5-7, 5.11) to the mound, and the left-hander is 0-1 over his last two outings, allowing 10 runs in 12 2-3 innings.
He was pulled after four-plus frames Aug. 17, allowing four runs with three walks while not getting a decision in a 6-5 road defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.
Keuchel surrendered six runs and three homers in 7 1-3 innings in an 8-6 victory in his only career start versus Toronto on July 27.
The Jays have dropped seven in a row, matching their season worst from July 14-24, and are on the cusp of their longest slide since a nine-game stretch from May 19-27, 2009.
The Associated Press News Service
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