Arizona (11-14) at Houston (8-16)

Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Mon May 3, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitchers are struggling through their worst stretch of the season, and they have to start a rookie in their next game.

Fortunately, there is perhaps no better team to break in a pitcher against than the Houston Astros.

Losers of three straight, the Diamondbacks will send Cesar Valdez(notes) to the mound to make his major league debut against the light-hitting Astros on Monday night.

Arizona (11-13) lost the final three games of a four-game set with Chicago, falling 10-5 on Sunday. It was the latest poor pitching performance for the Diamondbacks, who posted a 9.00 ERA over their last six games.

Arizona’s 5.90 ERA ranks 29th in the majors.

Kris Benson(notes) was scheduled to start Monday against the Astros (8-16), but the veteran was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained shoulder. Arizona will turn to Valdez, who went 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Reno this season, striking out 25 in 23 2-3 innings.

The right-hander was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2008.

“He’s had a good run of starts,” manager A.J. Hinch told the Diamondbacks’ official website. “He’ll get his first taste of the big leagues and we’ll give him the opportunity to stick.”

A matchup with the Astros could help Valdez gain some early confidence. Houston has lost six in a row, scoring two runs or fewer in each of its last four contests.

The Astros have a major league-low 72 runs. They went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in a 7-1 defeat to Atlanta on Sunday.

“We can’t seem to get that timely inning,” manager Brad Mills(notes) said. “They just don’t seem to come. Hopefully, we can learn from this and move on.”

Houston failed to respond after holding a team meeting after a 10-1 loss Saturday.

“We had to go over some things,” Mills said. “Most of it, I think, needs to stay in-house. … Just wanted to kind of tighten things up a little bit.”

Mills tweaked his lineup, moving Carlos Lee(notes) from cleanup to third in the order with Lance Berkman(notes) taking over as the No. 4 hitter.

Lee had two hits to raise his average to .191. The veteran has yet to homer after hitting at least 26 each of the past four seasons.

Felipe Paulino(notes) (0-3, 5.40) would certainly welcome some help from Lee. He has lost three straight outings, but got three runs to work over that span while giving up two earned runs in each of his last two starts.

Control, though, remains a problem for the right-hander. He walked four in five innings of a 6-4 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday night, giving him 14 in 21 2-3 innings.

This will be his first start against the Diamondbacks.

Houston lost five of nine against Arizona last season, dropping the final four meetings while posting a 9.00 ERA.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Valdez Tor vs. F. Paulino Bos
1-2 Record 1-9
7.65 ERA 5.11
13 K 83
10 BB 46
1.95 WHIP 1.54


Monday, May 3