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MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - INSIDE PITCH
No one player can immediately save the Astros, who were 4-1 winners over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The rebuilding club's major league turnaround isn't targeted until 2015. And that's just a launch date - not a planned World Series celebration.
But while prospects including shortstops Carlos Correa and Jonathan Villar, right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and center fielder George Springer work their way through the farm system, there is one young Astro who could provide sudden pop and much-needed excitement soon after making his major league debut.
First baseman Jonathan Singleton is the Astros' best immediate hope. The 6-2, 235-pound left-handed slugger has taken off after dealing with a 50-game drug suspension to start the season, hitting .263 with six home runs, 17 RBIs and an .872 OPS during 34 combined games with three minor-league affiliates. He's now with Triple-A Oklahoma City and is on target for a September call-up.
"(Singleton) is an imposing man. He has power to all fields and has a bright, bright future ahead of him," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We look forward to one day having him here."
The Astros actively stripped down their major league club in 2012, preaching long-term patience in exchange for annual success. They're just 30-54 this season, the worst team in MLB and again on pace for at least 100 losses.
The Astros are waiting on Singleton's activation. He's the only athlete in the farm system who could suddenly bounce from Triple-A to nightly big-league highlights. And Singleton has the power, pop and star potential to spend the remainder of the decade at Minute Maid Park.
"Singleton's at the top of the list. Villar is close, and Springer is not that far behind," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Those are the three guys that if we fast forward to the All-Star break next year, they're here and they're here to stay and they're making contributions -- they're not just up, getting a cup of coffee."
MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
PAST 10 GAMES: 3-7
NEXT: Rays (Chris Archer, 2-3, 4.40) at Astros (Jordan Lyles, 4-3, 3.99)
--LF Chris Carter drove in all of the Astros' runs on Wednesday night, plating a career-high four RBIs on two home runs. The multi-homer game was the second of his career, matching the two home runs he hit on April 9 at Seattle. Carter is the first Houston player to reach 17 homers by June 3 since Lance Berkman hit that many by this date in 2009.
--RHP Jordan Lyles will look to snap a personal two-game skid in the finale of a four-game series with the Rays on Thursday. This will mark Lyles' first career appearance against Tampa Bay and just his second against an American League East opponent. He pitched five scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox in 2011.
--RHP Bud Norris snapped a three-game losing skid, working seven innings while allowing one run on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Norris has posted a 2.29 ERA over his last nine starts, eight of which have been quality starts. He lowered his home ERA to 2.27.
--RHP Jose Veras notched his 17th save on the season and his ninth in his last nine save opportunities. Veras finished 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 1.80 ERA in June. The save was his first since last Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
--RHP Jose Cisnero worked a scoreless eighth inning, his 10th outing in his last 11 appearances without allowing an earned run. Prior to suffering his first career loss on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, Cisnero has worked 19 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You look at the strikeout total, and yes it's there. But you look at the power numbers, the RBIs, and you just look over the last two and a half, three weeks, just the quality of the at-bats overall. He has a chance to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100." -- Manager Bo Porter on LF Chris Carter, who drove in all of the Astros' runs Wednesday night in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay, plating a career-high four RBIs on two home runs.
MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - ROSTER REPORT
--OF Justin Maxwell (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list June 30.
--OF Trevor Crowe (right shoulder sprain) went on the 15-day disabled list June 21. There is no timetable for his return.
--RHP Edgar Gonzalez (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 26.
--RHP Alex White (Tommy John surgery in April 2013) went on the 60-day disabled list March 30. He is out for the season.
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Lucas Harrell
LHP Erik Bedard
RHP Jordan Lyles
LHP Dallas Keuchel
RHP Jose Veras (closer)
LHP Wesley Wright
RHP Paul Clemens
LHP Travis Blackley
RHP Jose Cisnero
RHP Josh Fields
LHP Brett Oberholtzer
1B Chris Carter
2B Jose Altuve
SS Ronny Cedeno
3B Matt Dominguez
DH Carlos Pena
INF Jake Elmore
INF Brett Wallace
LF J.D. Martinez
CF Brandon Barnes
RF Jimmy Paredes
OF Marc Krauss