The Houston Astros managed one win on a seven-game road trip and have not gotten the type of consistent starting pitching to compete in the American League.
The Detroit Tigers, who boast one of the best offenses in the league, will take aim at that pitching staff in the opener of a four-game series at Houston on Thursday. The Tigers had a five-game winning streak come to an end on Wednesday and are battling for first place in the AL Central.
The Astros were swept in a four-game series at Boston last weekend and dropped two of three against the New York Yankees to cap their road trip, with the lone win coming on Monday behind a stellar performance from Lucas Harrell. Unfortunately for Houston fans, Harrell can’t start every day, and the rest of the rotation has not been able to slow opposing offenses. Erik Bedard lasted only four innings on Wednesday and Philip Humber was knocked around the previous night.
Detroit has Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder all hitting over .300 in the middle of the lineup and power throughout. Cabrera had two of the Tigers’ six hits on Wednesday and has multiple hits in six of the last nine games to go along with 11 RBIs in that span.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Detroit, Comcast SportsNet Houston
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Rick Porcello (1-2, 8.84 ERA) vs. Astros RH Jordan Lyles (2012: 5-12, 5.09 ERA)
Porcello is trying to hold down the No. 5 starter spot and has been serviceable in most of his four starts, with the big exceptions being a meltdown at the Los Angeles Angels on April 20 when he was reached for nine runs and nine hits while recording two outs.
The 24-year-old bounced back from that with his first win on Saturday, holding Atlanta to three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out a season-high five against the Braves.
Lyles was passed over for a rotation spot in spring training and began the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 22-year-old made 40 starts for Houston over the previous two seasons and will take over the rotation spot of rookie Brad Peacock, who was pushed to the bullpen.
Lyles did not have great numbers in Oklahoma City last month, but the Astros were satisfied that he had made the necessary improvements to have success in the majors by attacking hitters and not falling behind in the count.
1. The Tigers' pitching staff set an AL record on Wednesday with the sixth straight game of at least 10 strikeouts. The Astros’ offense leads the majors in strikeouts.
2. Houston is beginning a season-long 10-game homestand.
3. Fielder has 55 hits, including 14 home runs, in 46 career games at Minute Maid Park.