Twins-Astros Preview

The Associated PressSeptember 3, 2013

The future is on display this week at Minute Maid Park.

After a pair of rookies squared off in the opener of this three-game series between two of the worst teams in the AL, the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros will send young pitchers to the mound again Tuesday night.

Jarred Cosart (1-1, 1.59 ERA) has shown why he was one of the highest-ranked prospects in the Astros' system in each of the past two seasons. The right-hander burst onto the scene with eight scoreless innings in his major league debut July 12, beating Tampa Bay 2-1, and he's allowed three runs or fewer in each of his eight starts.

That includes Wednesday, when he failed to receive a decision despite allowing one run in six innings of a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

The pressure of facing Chicago ace Chris Sale may have gotten to him early as the White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the first, but Cosart got out of the jam with one run allowed.

He gave up four hits over his final five innings.

"(Pitching coach Doug) Brocail thought I was working really fast and he asked if I was all right," Cosart said. "I said, 'Yeah, just a little excited.' So I just kind of got back in my comfort zone."

Walks have limited Cosart's ability to pitch deep into games. He issued five for the third time Wednesday, driving his pitch count up to 113 after six innings.

He also hasn't gotten much support from a stagnant Houston offense, which has provided him 13 runs.

Cosart hopes the Astros (45-92) can stage a repeat of Monday, when their six runs and 13 hits marked their highest totals in a week. Houston, though, allowed the Twins to score five times in the last two innings in falling 10-6.

He also wouldn't mind a repeat of his Aug. 2 start against the Twins, when he held them to a run and five hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 13-inning loss.

Pedro Hernandez's introduction to the big leagues has been far less smooth than Cosart's, though he has three times as many wins.

Hernandez (3-1, 5.54) posted a 6.67 ERA in six starts this season before he was sent down to the minor leagues May 20.

He drove from Louisville, Ky., to make an emergency start June 23 in Cleveland, arriving at the team hotel at four in the morning. The 24-year-old left-hander then managed to work around six walks to yield two runs in five innings of a 5-3 win.

"After the third inning, I said, 'Come on. Let's go. This is my opportunity. I want to do my best right now,'" Hernandez said.

The Twins (60-76) hit seven home runs in 11 games before tying a season high with four Monday. Chris Colabello, Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe hit solo shots, and Colabello completed Minnesota's comeback from four runs down with a ninth-inning grand slam.

"The biggest goal for a hitter is to go out and be yourself," Colabello said. "Trust your approach. Trust what you do. Believe in what got you here and then go from there. Today was a good step in that direction."

Colabello had gone 42 at-bats without a homer and was 1 for 26 with 14 strikeouts over his previous eight games.

Dozier has four home runs in his last nine games.

Houston All-Star Jason Castro sustained a right knee sprain Monday, and with Max Stassi and Carlos Corporan on the seven-day concussion disabled list, Cody Clark was the only healthy catcher until the Astros acquired Matt Pagnozzi from Atlanta for cash considerations Tuesday.

Clark is 0 for 13 with six strikeouts in his first five big league games, while Pagnozzi has batted .310 in 33 career games with St. Louis, Colorado and Pittsburgh.