The Houston Astros took the Detroit Tigers to the 14th inning on Thursday before letting it slip away in the series opener.
Both the host Astros and the Tigers will be hoping to get long outings from the starters when they meet again on Friday. Houston made the decision to intentionally walk both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with one out in the 14th and the move immediately backfired as Detroit rallied for four runs to land the win.
The Astros have dropped seven of their last eight games and have not scored more than four runs in any of the losses. Houston batters struck out 18 times in 14 innings on Thursday and are going up against a Detroit staff that has struck out at least 10 batters in seven straight games.
One more 10-strikeout game and the Tigers will match the record set by last season’s Milwaukee Brewers. Detroit has won six of its last seven and turns to undefeated Doug Fister on Friday.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Detroit, Comcast SportsNet Houston
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Doug Fister (4-0, 2.38 ERA) vs. Astros RH Bud Norris (3-3, 4.20)
Fister leads the majors with eight hit batters but has managed to keep most of those baserunners from scoring. The right-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts and struck out a season-high eight while allowing three runs to earn a win over Atlanta his last time out. Fister has never faced Houston but has some history against Chris Carter and Carlos Pena, who are a combined 2-for-11 with one home run against the 29-year-old.
Norris started out strong but has stumbled a bit over his last three starts, including a blowup at Oakland on April 17 in which he managed only two outs. The right-hander allowed five runs (three earned) and nine hits in six innings to suffer a loss at Boston on Sunday. Norris has been at his best at Minute Maid Park, where he is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA.
1. Cabrera has recorded multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games.
2. The teams combined to use 11 relievers on Thursday (seven by the Astros).
3. Houston rookie OF Robbie Grossman has hit safely in four straight games after going hitless in the previous four.