Those hitters probably won't be slowed down in Sunday's series finale based on the starting pitchers.The Astros will give the ball to Dallas Keuchel and the Rangers counter with rookie Nick Martinez in Sunday's four-game series finale in Houston.The Houston second baseman leads the majors with a .332 average, while Beltre is not far behind him at .325 in a race that includes Detroit's Victor Martinez and Seattle's Robinson Cano.Altuve has hit safely in eight straight games, going 4 for 12 in this series. Beltre is 3 for 10 in the first three games.There's reason to believe both will maintain that level of production. Altuve is 2 for 4 this year against the inexperienced Martinez (3-10, 5.31 ERA) while Beltre is 7 for 22 over the last two years versus Keuchel.Beltre is also a .349 hitter off left-handers as he gets ready to face Keuchel (10-9, 3.05), who is known best for his ability to induce ground balls.The southpaw leads the majors in groundball percentage (63.5) and groundball-to-flyball ratio (3.46). He has induced 28 groundball double plays to tie Detroit's Rick Porcello for the big-league lead.Keuchel is 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA in three starts against the Rangers this year, getting them to ground into six twin-killings.He is 0-2 with a 3.34 ERA in five outings this month, allowing two runs in seven innings in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over Oakland.Houston's ability to turn two may be hampered if shortstop Marwin Gonzalez misses a second straight game. He was scratched from Saturday's 2-0 victory with discomfort in his right hamstring, and Gregorio Petit started in his place."I think it's just a one-day thing," manager Bo Porter told MLB's official website. "It's just a little bit tight. He's been playing really well and we don't want to risk anything moving forward."Gonzalez is 8 for 17 on this nine-game homestand.Houston (58-79) has taken two of the first three games even though Chris Carter is 1 for 10. Carter leads the majors with 14 homers since the All-Star break.The Astros clinched the season series and the Silver Boot between these state rivals Saturday, improving to 10-5 versus the Rangers.Texas (53-82) had not lost the season series since 2006 and is assured its first losing season since 2008. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in the first six games of this 10-game trip.Martinez is the first Texas right-handed rookie to reach double figures in defeats since Jose Guzman and Edwin Correa in 1986.He won his lone start against the Astros exactly three weeks ago by allowing two runs over five innings in a 6-2 road victory. Keuchel was charged with five runs in six innings.The Rangers have won six straight day games, including that contest.
Since the start of 2012, Adrian Beltre is hitting .312 in at-bats to end with a pitch in the lower third of the zone or below, the third-highest such average among qualified hitters. Dallas Keuchel is throwing 57 percent of his pitches down in the zone or below this year, the fourth-highest percentage among qualified pitchers.