Houston Astros rookie Taylor Buchholz is going to have a hard time trying to top the last time he pitched against the Texas Rangers, but the way his team has been hitting, he may need to duplicate the effort.
After mustering just four hits in a 3-1 loss on Friday, the Astros (38-42) continue their three-game series on Saturday against the in-state rival Rangers (41-39).
Friday’s run was the only one the Astros have scored in their last three games. Houston has dropped four straight games overall and seven of its last eight.
“We’re not playing ball. That’s the bottom line,” said Astros ace Roy Oswalt, who has just one win in his last seven starts after taking the loss in Friday’s series opener. “If we keep playing the way we are now, we’ll be out of it by August. … We’re not playing together right now. We’re not having fun. Everybody is worrying about losing.”
Buchholz (4-6, 5.81 ERA) is facing the Rangers for the second time this season after pitching a five-hit shutout on May 21. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out six and didn’t walk a batter as he threw 72 of his 102 pitches for strikes in the 5-0 win.
“Overall their guy pitched real well,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m happy for the young man but I wish he had done it against someone else.
“He had command of his pitches and he even mixed in a couple of changeups. He got bored with our hitters, I guess.”
Houston looks for Buchholz to rebound from a tough start last Saturday against the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up four runs in 6 1-3 innings and did not receive a decision in a 6-5 loss.
“(Buchholz) didn’t lose it,” said Houston manager Phil Garner. “He pitched well enough to win and did a fine job. The story of today was we didn’t put them away. … The kid did a good job.”
Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira was 1-for-4 on Friday with a double in the seventh, ending an 0-for-17 slump and helping his team snap a season-high five-game losing streak.
“It felt great to break out of it and get a win,” Teixeira said.
Texas will hand the ball to John Wasdin (1-0, 3.88), who returns to make his second start of the season. The right-hander landed on the disabled list with a bruised right thumb suffered in his other start, a 13-6 victory over Boston in which he allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings before taking a ground ball off the hand ane leaving with the injury.
Wasdin is making his third appearance and second career start against the Astros. He has no record and a 10.80 ERA in 6 2-3 innings pitched versus Houston.