On the same day that Houston officially signed second round pick A.J. Reed, another slugger got honored before the game. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt received his trophy for being named the Houston Area Player of the Year for 2013. The annual award is voted for by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writer's Association of America.
That's not the usual intro into a series preview, but this isn't really a series, is it? Even though these are technically two different series, I don't recognize them as different. The NBA Finals isn't split up into five different series, just because they switch locales five times.
Thus, you get a watered-down version of this preview.
Houston split its first two games with Arizona, after the defense let the Astros down in a decisive seventh inning Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, the Astros will face right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who sports a 5.13 ERA on the season and a pretty dire 1-8 record. To counter that, Houston is sending its hidden ace, Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel, of course, is 7-3 this season with a 2.50 ERA in a breakout campaign for the lefty. In addition to being a stopper for the Astros, Keuchel has also proven he can pitch deep into games regularly. The Astros will need that after a four-game stretch where the bullpen was sorely used.
Rudy Owens is in uniform for tonight's game, as he's been since Monday when the Astros sent Paul Clemens to Triple-A in favor of another left-hander. Still, Owens does not have a strong record of pitching out of the bullpen. In fact, he has no track record of pitching out of the bullpen.
If there's a silver lining to this game, it's that George Springer is back from that troublesome knee injury that has sidelined him for the past two games. He's batting second tonight, because Jose Altuve gets his first day off of the season. Marwin Gonzalez starts at second base and the backup second baseman is...Matt Dominguez. When Bo Porter told Matty D this before the game, he was quick to point out that Dominguez would only play shortstop if two guys went out, as he'd just shift Marwin over to short in the event of a Villar injury.