The Astros may not know what they're going to get from game to game, but manager Bo Porter has begun to see one theme: All-out effort. Houston will begin its first road series in Detroit as an American League team on Monday, and Porter hopes to see the same intensity.
"These guys are going to battle down to the last out," Porter said. "They're going to battle and grind and give everything they have. We're never out of a ballgame because of the resilience of this ballclub."
Houston fell to a four-game series sweep at home against Detroit earlier this month, and the four games provided a stark study in contrasts. The Tigers won the first two games against the Astros in their final at-bat -- including a 14-inning victory -- and then outscored them 26-2 in the last two games.
The Tigers are coming off a first-place showdown against the Indians, and Detroit lost an extra-inning game to drop into a tie atop the American League Central. Monday's game will pit Houston's Bud Norris against Detroit veteran Anibal Sanchez, who ranks fifth on the AL's ERA charts (1.97).
Sanchez has completed at least six innings in six of his first seven starts this season, and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any outing. Sanchez has allowed just one home run all season, and he's struck out (58) more than five times as many batters as he's walked (11).
The Astros were swept by the Rangers over the weekend and went 2-8 over their 10-game homestand, so they may be ready to hit the road. Houston has a 4-12 record on the road so far in its first season as a member of the AL West, but Norris has consistently gone deep in the game for the Astros.
Norris pitched into the ninth inning of his last start for the first time in his career, and he's allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his first eight starts. Most of his success has come at home, though, and the 28-year-old has posted a 1-2 record with a 5.93 ERA in three road starts this season.
The Astros fell behind 12-1 in their series finale against Texas and scored six runs in the final two innings to tighten the final scoreline. The Tigers, meanwhile, were on the verge of a two-game lead in the Central before the Indians tied the game in the ninth and pushed ahead in the 10th to tie the division.
Astros: Altuve remains hot
Jose Altuve leads all big-league second basemen in batting average (.336), and he also ranks third in the Major League in hits (51). Altuve has turned a league-high 38 double plays, and he's hit safely in 30 of his first 36 games. The 23-year-old is batting .343 (24-for-70) in 16 road games this season.
Tigers: V-Mart hanging in
The Tigers haven't gotten much offense from veteran Victor Martinez this season, but he's been healthy enough to be a consistent presence in the lineup. Martinez, who missed all of last year with a left knee injury, is batting .212 with one home run and 15 RBIs in his first 34 games.
Martinez has played 31 of his games at designated hitter, and he's batted out of the fifth slot of the lineup 31 times.
• This is Houston's first trip to Detroit since a three-game series in June 2006. The Astros are 4-5 all-time in Detroit, but all of that was in Interleague Play.
• Detroit is 17-2 when leading after eight innings.
• Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson missed Sunday's game with a sore right hamstring.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.