Friday -- Astros 21, D-backs 5: Houston opens series with rout. Saturday -- Astros 6, D-backs 2: McHugh holds down D-backs. Sunday -- Robbie Ray (5-12, 3.50) vs. Lance McCullers (6-7, 3.21), 11:30 a.m., FOX Sports Arizona.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
The stakes are raised
The Astros arrive in Phoenix 1 game ahead of the Twins and Angels in the battle for the final American League wild-card berth. They sweep this weekend and there are in -- capping a remarkable turnaround for manager A.J. Hinch's bunch. Anything less and it gets complicated. The D-backs would like nothing more than to add to their complications, but they have their own incentive: If the D-backs sweep, they'll finish the season at .500 -- a noteworthy accomplishment for a team that finished with the worst record in baseball a year ago.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Enrique Burgos gave up an earned run on Thursday night, ending a streak of 12.2 scoreless innings for the Diamondbacks' bullpen. The 'pen enters the final weekend of the season having given up one run in its last 16.1 innings, and closer Brad Ziegler returns tonight following a break for the berth of his daughter. The Astros, meanwhile, have experienced multiple late-inning meltdowns in losing their lead in the AL West. Since September 1, their relievers are 3-9 with a major-league worst 5.63 ERA.
APRoss D. Franklin
Speaking of saves . . .
According to the metrics on Fangraphs.com, the Diamondbacks rank first in baseball by a wide margin in defensive runs saved with 80. The Royals are a distant second with 55. The Astros rank fifth with 25. Ender Inciarte ranks second individually with 29 runs saved, and Nick Ahmed, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock all are among the top 15 individuals.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
By the numbers
The Diamondbacks continue to have four batters (Goldschmidt, Pollock, David Peralta and Inciarte) ranked among the top 10 hitters in the National League, which would be a first for the franchise. Goldschmidt is third in the NL in on-base percentage, slugging and walks, fourth in hits, and fifth in batting average, home runs and runs. Pollock is second in runs and hits and third in stolen bases and needs one more home run to join Goldschmidt and Ryan Braun as the only National Leaguers with at 20 homers and 20 steals. Peralta leads the league with 10 triples and is sixth in slugging.