Astros will face challenges in Minnesota
Houston (30-34) at Minnesota (34-34), 7:10 p.m. CT
ARLINGTON -- The challenge of playing at Minnesota's Metrodome, where the Astros open a three-game series against the Twins on Friday, is one that's intriguing to Astros center fielder Michael Bourn.Not only is Bourn looking forward to perhaps testing the arm of Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, but he's heard from veteran players, including teammate Jason Michaels, about the challenges of tracking fly balls against the stadium's white roof.
"I've never played there before but have heard all about it," Bourn said. "They said it's tougher than [Tampa Bay's] Tropicana Field. With that being said, I remember playing at Tropicana last year and I didn't see the ball that well at all."The thing is I can't take my eye off the ball [in Minnesota]. I like to take my eye off it when I'm running for the ball. If I can't take my eye off of it, I don't know what I'm going to do." Bourn, who entered Thursday leading the National League with 23 stolen bases, has a world of respect for Mauer, who had thrown out six of 14 attempted basestealers before Thursday. Bourn has been caught stealing six times this year. "I don't know too many people that can catch and throw with Joe Mauer or Pudge," said Bourn, referring to teammate Ivan Rodriguez, who broke the Major League record by catching his 2,227th career game Wednesday. "I've never seen Joe Mauer do it in person, but we're about to find out. He's good, though." Bourn has played only three games in the Major Leagues on artificial turf, coming last year when the Astros visited the Rays. He said he felt faster on the surface at Tropicana Field and hopes the turf will bolster his running game. "I'm going to try to get a good feel for it the first day I'm out there," he said. Bourn entered Thursday leading the team with a .383 average with runners in scoring position, as well as leading the National League in infield hits and ranking third in triples. Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt (3-3, 4.37 ERA)
Working on six days' rest worked wonders for Oswalt on Saturday, when he held Arizona to five hits for seven innings and claimed total control of both his fastball and curve for the first time this season. A touch of tendinitis in his right wrist had pushed back that start, and the little breather may prove to have been enough to launch him on an extended streak. Oswalt certainly sounded confident following the victory over the D-backs, which restored his faith in his breaking pitch. MIN: RHP Kevin Slowey (9-2, 4.23 ERA)
Slowey produced a season-high 10-strikeout game in his previous outing, a 7-4 victory against the Cubs on Friday. He surpassed his previous season high of eight strikeouts by the fifth inning. In fact, 10 of Slowey's first 16 outs came via the strikeout, and he struck out the side in both the second and fifth innings. He faltered a bit in the sixth, allowing three runs, but he protected the lead to earn his team-high ninth victory. Tidbits
Outfielder Darin Erstad snapped an 0-for-28 slump with a fifth-inning double Thursday. ... Shortstop Miguel Tejada is two doubles shy of reaching 400. ... Outfielder Carlos Lee, who started at designated hitter all three games of the series at Texas, is a career .290 hitter (71-for-245) with 14 homers and 55 RBIs in 64 games at designated hitter. Tickets
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Saturday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 3-4, 6.66) at Twins (Scott Baker, 4-6, 5.30), 6:10 p.m. CT
Sunday: Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 5-6, 3.33) at Twins (Glen Perkins, 2-3, 5.09), 1:10 p.m. CT
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.