Baseball's landscape shifted significantly this winter when the Astros became the American League's 15th team. It created year-round Interleague Play and a new regional rivalry between Houston and Colorado.
The two teams will meet for the first time this season and play a four game, home and home series starting Monday with two games in Houston, then two in Colorado. The unusual four-game split is also a result of the Astros' move to the AL.
"It happens in baseball. It's all part of scheduling," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We're pretty much treating it like a four-game series and you don't worry about the venue."
The Rockies swept the Astros in a four-game set in late May last season, and Houston has struggled out of the gate this season. But when its needed a strong performance off the mound at home, Bud Norris has delivered.
Norris has allowed just eight earned runs in six home starts this year, and Astros starters had thrown seven straight quality starts before Lucas Harrell and Dallas Keuchel were roughed up Saturday and Sunday by the Athletics -- two of their 17 losses this month.
Norris exited his outing Tuesday with lower back spasms, an injury that's "completely new territory" for him. But he says he'll be good to go Monday.
"It's just making sure you're stretched and loose so that your body isn't cold when you get out there so you don't pull something," he said Wednesday. "I don't think that was the case [Tuesday]."
Norris will take on Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 3.02 ERA on the road in his career and a 4.26 mark at home. He has struggled this month, however, going 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA.
"I've watched quite a few of Houston's games this year, and their record isn't good, but it seems to me they've lost a lot of close games," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said Sunday. "Plus, we're facing Bud Norris tomorrow, and if you look at his home numbers, we've got our work cut out for us. Just because their record is what it is doesn't mean we can take them lightly."
Astros: Lineup showing power
The Astros have 11 home runs in their last 10 games, but have lost seven of them, including a 6-2 decision to Oakland Sunday. Porter said around this time in the season, players start to figure out how pitchers are approaching them.
But catcher Jason Castro insists it doesn't matter if there's power, just that they're getting offensive production.
"If we walk a guy and sac bunt him over and then get a base hit, that's the same as a solo home run to us," Castro said. "However, we can get them, we'll take them."
Rockies: Two days off DL, Cuddyer leaves game
Michael Cuddyer is 4-for-11 with six RBIs since coming off the disabled list Friday after spending about two weeks on the shelf. He had been sidelined by an inflamed cervical disk.
But just as his bat started to get going again, Cuddyer exited Sunday's game against the Giants when he was hit in the arm with a George Kontos' fastball. X-rays were negative and the Rockies announced he had a right forearm contusion. The injury does not appear to be serious.
"You never know with baseball; you feel good and sometimes you don't get good results," Cuddyer said Saturday. "I felt good, my neck felt great, I felt comfortable in the box."
• Norris has given up 15 earned runs in 13 2/3 career innings against the Rockies. Chacin is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against Houston.
• Colorado ranked first in the National League in runs scored entering Sunday, while the Astros are 12th in the AL.