06/19/10 6:59 PM ET
Paulino to be tested by red-hot Rangers
By Noah Rosenstein / MLB.com
Entering his last start against Kansas City, Paulino was coming off the best stretch of his career, a string of five straight quality starts that ended with three outings going a career-high eight innings, with only three runs allowed over that stretch. Simply put, he was rolling, lowering his ERA to 3.82, the best it had been since his 10th career game.
But things imploded in the fifth inning against the Royals after umpire Mike Everitt awarded Jose Guillen a base on a catcher's interference. Guillen appeared to foul off a 1-1 pitch, but Everitt ruled that he had hit the glove of Astros catcher Humberto Quintero. The controversial call loaded the bases, and the next five Royals reached base to put up seven two-out runs against Paulino.
"There won't be a different approach with him," Astros manager Brad Mills said of Paulino's start against the Rangers on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. "Pitch selection and maybe a mental state got him into trouble. ... He's throwing the ball so good other than that one inning."
Paulino looks to get back on track against a red-hot Texas team that entered Saturday ranked second in the Majors in batting average, runs and homers for the month of June. And its pitching staff had posted the American League's lowest ERA in June at 3.52.
To continue that, the Rangers turn to 29-year-old southpaw C.J. Wilson, their former closer who has gone 5-3 with a 3.48 ERA this year in a successful transition to the rotation. But that switch started looking shaky until recently. After starting the season with seven straight quality starts, going 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in that stretch, Wilson struggled to the tune of an 8.57 ERA in his next four outings. He has picked it back up with quality starts in his last two outings against Seattle and Florida.
Rangers: Home away from home
The Rangers set a club record on Saturday with seven straight wins on one road trip. That also tied the second-best road winning streak in club history (last occurred May 12-26, 1991) and marked Texas' fourth consecutive road series victory for the first time since April 12-May 2, 2006. ... Texas has the second-best June winning percentage (.778, 14-4) in the Major Leagues, behind the Mets. The club record for best winning percentage and most victories in June is .679 (19-9) in 1983. ... Josh Hamilton is on a 15-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the Majors and the Rangers' longest this season.
Astros: Pitchers nearing their returns
Right-handed starter Bud Norris, on the disabled list since May 24 with bursitis and biceps tendinitis, could be activated soon. Norris threw 50-60 pitches in a bullpen session prior to Saturday's game and had thrown two rehab outings previously. He could replace Brian Moehler the next time through the rotation. "Whenever I'm out there, I'll be ready to go," he said. "I'm happy the way I felt, so that's a plus." ... Righty reliever Chris Sampson, on the DL since June 1 with rotator cuff tendinitis, will make his third rehab appearance on Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock. He struck out two batters in one scoreless inning (20 pitches) in Friday's rehab outing. ... Relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino will be further examined by team doctors on Sunday and could get a cortisone shot in his right elbow, which has been causing him pain when he throws sliders. He underwent an MRI on Friday that showed no structural damage and has been put on oral inflammatory meds, general manager Ed Wade said.
In his first rehab game on Friday, Nelson Cruz went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored and played the entire game in right field for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He went 0-for-3 with one walk as the designated hitter on Saturday. ... The Rangers have won a club record seven straight games in Interleague Play. ... The Rangers have now won six of the last seven and seven of the last 10 Lone Star Series overall, including three straight Silver Boot Trophies. They have won seven of the past eight games against Houston and five straight games at Minute Maid Park, the longest streak in franchise history. ... The Rangers are 8-3 and the Astros are 2-9 in Interleague Play this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.