The Spring Training predictions might turn out to be true. The Astros might approach the modern day record for losses, struggle to score runs and find themselves out of many games early.
As of now, however, none of what happened in the season's first several weeks or what their final record might be matters. All that matters is that, as of Thursday, the Astros can't be stopped.
The Astros walloped six home runs on Wednesday to post their seventh victory in their last eight games and look to continue their hot play behind right-hander Bud Norris in Thursday's series finale against the Orioles at Minute Maid Park.
"Momentum is important and we have something positive going and we want to ride it as long as possible, but at the same time, we want to make sure it's not a fluke," Astros first baseman Carlos Pena said. "We want to do it every single day and give ourselves a shot every single night and come out and play. That can only happen when we play our brand of baseball, the baseball we always envisioned when we started in Spring Training."
Thursday's start marks Norris' 109th of his career, and the 28-year-old has continued to mature and develop into a solid starter in his fourth full Major League season. Norris has held opponents to three runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts, including tossing quality starts in six of his last seven outings.
He's been especially dominant at home dating back to 2012, going 7-2 with a 1.83 ERA at Minute Maid Park since last season.
The Orioles -- winners in 10 of their last 15 -- counter with Miguel Gonzalez on Thursday as the right-hander looks to rebound from a rough outing against the Tigers. Gonzalez had given up six earned runs and two homers in 18 2/3 innings in his three previous May starts before surrendering five earned runs -- and two homers -- in six innings on Friday in his final start of the month.
Pena (2-for-6) is the lone Astros player to face Gonzalez.
Orioles: Extra, extra
• The Orioles have at least two extra-base hits in 33 straight games, 12 more than the next longest streak of 2013 (20 by Cincinnati from May 1-24).
• Third baseman Manny Machado, who has a Major League-leading 51 road hits, has recorded a base knock in 12 of his last 13 road games. He's hitting .419 with eight doubles and two homers in that stretch.
• Chris Davis is hitting .408 with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 22 RBIs in his last 25 games.
Astros: Maxwell's rehab plan
• Outfielder Justin Maxwell (fracture in left hand) remained hitless on his rehab assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday, going 0-for-4 after an 0-for-3 effort Tuesday. Numbers won't account for everything when it comes time to evaluate Maxwell and when he's ready to return to the Majors, said Astros manager Bo Porter.
"For me, it's more about the health on consecutive days," Porter said. "Yeah, you might be able to swing the bat well one day, but I want to know how it feels the next day and then after three to four days in a row. That's more of a parameter for evaluating him than his performance."
• Astros pitchers have a 3.53 ERA in their last 20 games, including a 3.17 mark by the starters.
• Catcher Carlos Corporan has a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .435.
• The home team has won 10 of 11 games in the series.
• Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has an eight-game hitting streak.
• The Orioles have stolen 17 consecutive bases.