What's new: It continues to be a struggle for the Astros in their first year in the American League as they are on pace for 105 losses. After losing three of four to the Rays last week, they lost four of five during a trip to Texas and St. Louis. There are a few interesting names such as former Rays slugger 1B Carlos Peña, 5-foot-5 spark plug 2B Jose Altuve, powerful INF/OF Chris Carter and All-Star C Jason Castro. The bullpen has some good arms, including former Rays prospect RHP Jose Veras. Top prospect RHP Jarred Cosart was summoned to start tonight. OF Justin Maxwell (concussion) is expected back tonight.
Key stat: The Astros' run differential of minus-138 is worst in the AL by more than double the 14th-place Mariners' minus-67. The Rays are plus-55.
Connections: Peña was a Rays star from 2007-10 and returned in 2012, Veras a Rays minor-leaguer from 1998-2004 and bench coach Eduardo Perez a Ray from 2004-05. Rays DH Luke Scott made his big-league debut with the Astros, and 2B Ben Zobrist was a minor-leaguer.
Series history: The Rays lead 3-1 this season and 9-7 overall. The Astros won two of three in their only visit, in 2003.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer