Chamberlain (1-2, 2.67 ERA) makes his first career road start for the Yankees on Friday night when they begin a three-game interleague series with the Astros.
The right-hander is slowly being converted from the Yankees’ eighth-inning setup man into a starter, and New York feels he is getting closer to going deeper into games. He lasted 2 1-3 innings, walked four and threw 62 pitches on June 3 in a 9-3 loss to Toronto in his first start, but his next outing was a bit better.
Chamberlain gave up three runs and five hits over 4 1-3 innings, throwing a career-high 78 pitches in New York’s 6-3 win over Kansas City on Sunday.
“As a competitor, you want to be out there as long as you can go and as hard as you can go,” Chamberlain said. “But you also understand that it’s a transition. You have to be patient and learn from it and try to get better every time out.”
The Yankees (34-33) are hoping to increase the workload for Chamberlain to between 90-95 pitches on Friday.
New York has met Houston (33-34) previously only in 2003, winning two of three at home. The lone loss was an 8-0 defeat in which six Astros combined on a no-hitter.
Although the Yankees are visiting Houston for the first time in the regular season, they did play in the first game at the Astrodome on April 9, 1965. They won 2-1 in an exhibition game as Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the history of that building.
Neither team is enjoying a great season so far in 2008 with nearly identical records, but the Astros are expecting a big buzz nevertheless with the Yankees in town.
“I’m sure the ballpark will be electric,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper told the team’s official Web site. “There will be some big players here. But we have some good players in this league, too. We should be revved up regardless of who we’re playing.”
The Astros have lost 11 of their last 14 games after falling 9-6 to Milwaukee on Thursday. Lance Berkman, who leads the majors with 62 runs, failed to score for the first time in six games and went 0-for-5.
New York climbed back over .500 with a 4-1 win at Oakland on Thursday as Hideki Matsui, who turned 34, hit his fifth career grand slam in the sixth inning. The Yankees have been two games over .500 just once this season when they were 12-10 after beating the Chicago White Sox on April 23.
After going his first nine starts without a decision to set a major league record, Astros starter Shawn Chacon (2-2, 4.96) has received decisions in each of his last four. He is 0-2 with a 16.50 ERA in his last two outings after getting tagged for seven runs in five innings last Saturday in an 8-4 loss to St. Louis.
The right-hander, who pitched for New York from 2005-06, started against the Yankees for the only time on June 10 last season with Pittsburgh and allowed seven runs over 3 1-3 innings in a 13-6 loss.