video thumbnail

OAK@LAA: Wilson strikes out seven A's over six frames

While nothing seemed to be going right for the Astros during their first seven games of the season, the team has started to pull itself together.

After dropping six of its first seven games, Houston has won three of its last four. One of the biggest differences for the Astros during that stretch has been a reduction in the strikeouts that plagued the club early. Striking out 82 times in their first seven contests, the Astros have struck out 31 times in the past four games.

Houston will look to keep its strikeouts to a minimum once again as it goes for a series victory against the Angels on Sunday in Anaheim.

"Our guys have done a good job being more selective," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "The aggression has always been there, but early in the year it wasn't a selective aggression. It was a lot of pitches outside the zone, and that's why the strikeouts piled up. These guys are back to what we can expect of them. They're more patient and not swinging at balls out of the zone."

The Astros will be up against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, who is still searching for his first win of the season after taking a no-decision on Tuesday against the A's.

Wilson will look to help the Angels to their first series win of the season after Albert Pujols hit a game-winning double in the bottom of the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 victory.

Wilson got roughed up early in his last start, surrendering three runs in the first inning and a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp in the second, but settled down after that, retiring 15 of the next 17 batters -- seven on strikeouts -- to get through six innings. Wilson allowed four runs on six hits, while striking out seven and walking three.

In 14 games against the Astros (four starts) during his career, Wilson is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA.

Astros: Castro makes fifth start behind the plate
• For the first time in nearly three years, Jason Castro was in Saturday's lineup as the starting catcher for the fifth consecutive game, which ties his career high for consecutive games behind the plate. Castro last caught five games in a row June 26-30, 2010, shortly after he made his Major League debut.

Backup catcher Carlos Corporan caught Lucas Harrell's first two games of the season, but with the left-hander Wilson pitching Sunday for the Angels in a day game, Porter called on Castro on Saturday and will put the switch-hitting Corporan in the lineup on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling," Castro said. "I was actually just talking with [catching instructor Jeff] Murphy about it yesterday and joked with him about how it's the first time in like two years where I've been able to catch more than three games in a row.

• Philip Humber makes his third start of the season for the Astros in Sunday's series finale at Anaheim. He's off to a nice start this season, but is still searching for his first win.

Humber has allowed only four earned runs on 10 hits in the two contests, but has received very little run support. In Monday's game against the Mariners, Humber allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, falling to 0-2 on the season with a 3.09 ERA.

Angels: Aybar and Jepsen placed on DL
• Infielder Erick Aybar and right-hander Kevin Jepsen were placed on the 15-day disabled list before the start of Saturday's game against the Astros.

Aybar is on the DL with a bruised heel, which he suffered in Tuesday's game while lunging to first base as he attempted to beat out an infield single. Jepsen has a right shoulder strain, which has been bothering him since Spring Training.

To counteract those moves, J.B. Shuck, who was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, was recalled. The Angels also selected the contract of right-hander Michael Roth and designated Scott Cousins for assignment.

Worth noting
• Angels reliever Ryan Madson is scheduled to throw his next bullpen session on Sunday.

• Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo -- recovering from a strained right calf -- is doing "much better," manager Mike Scioscia said on Saturday.

"Hopefully, Alberto's deal is short term and we'll see how he progresses the next two or three days."

MLB.com Comments