06/26/10 2:33 AM ET
Banks ready for debut in Lone Star Series
By Didier Morais / MLB.com
And he received the call in time to participate in the Lone Star Series. The 27-year-old hurler will have to handle duties for the Astros, who snapped the red-hot Rangers' 11-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory Friday night.
"I'll try and go out there and do the best I can and keep us in the game," said Banks, who previously pitched in Triple-A Round Rock. "Whatever happens up there -- it's unfortunate the situation with [Felipe] Paulino. It is what it is. I was hoping to keep throwing the ball well and when they needed somebody I got the call."
But rookie catcher Jason Castro isn't worried about his pitcher. Castro, who was called up from Round Rock five days ago, caught 13 of Banks' 15 starts in the Minors and came away impressed with his skill set.
"He works really well mixing pitches and spotting up with his fastball," Castro said. "He knows what he's doing out there and he can really pitch. Hopefully we can get together and get a good game plan going and he can execute with all his pitches. That's why he's been successful all this year."
Texas starter C.J. Wilson has also savored success this year. Aside from pitching for the hottest offense in baseball, the lefty is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA during his last four outings, including a start against the Astros last Sunday.
After overcoming a shaky first two innings, Wilson rebounded with a strong outing, allowing just two runs in seven innings.
"C.J. hung in there and the bullpen did a great job again," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Astros: Draft pick Velasquez signs
The Astros locked up Vincent Velasquez Friday. Velasquez, who initially signed a letter of intent to pitch at Cal State Fullerton, was the club's second-round selection during this year's First-Year Player Draft.
As a senior at Garey High School in Pomona, Calif., Velasquez owned a 6-1 record along with a 1.89 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 49 innings of work.
At this point, Houston has now dotted 29 of its 52 total Draft picks, including 17 prospects selected in the first 20 rounds.
Rangers: Rotation shuffle for Angels series
Washington is already making rotation reservations for next week's series against the Angels. But don't count on Dustin Nippert or Matt Harrison to make it.
Washington announced Friday that he would skip the rotation's fifth starter for the series opener and go with Scott Feldman, Colby Lewis and Wilson. The skipper's decision was prompted by the club's day off on Monday.
"We sat around and discussed it and felt it was the best way to go," Washington said.
Prior to Friday's game, the Rangers' players cast their All-Star votes for the Mid-Summer Classic's pitchers and reserves. ... Astros outfielder Hunter Pence leads the National League in infield hits with 15. ... Houston is riding an eight-game winning streak on Wednesdays. The last time the club suffered a loss on a Wednesday was April 28 versus the Reds.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.