Coming off a road sweep against Tampa Bay over the weekend, the streaking Orioles kept it going at home by beating the Astros in the series opener Friday night. But can they keep it going against a pitcher who is pretty much a mystery?
Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will get the start Saturday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and face Astros starter Collin McHugh, who has made three starts this year -- two of them dazzling.
McHugh, a journeyman who was called up to take Scott Feldman's spot in the rotation when he was injured, struck out 12 batters in 6 2/3 innings in his Astros debut on April 22 at Seattle and then held the A's to one run and two hits in 8 2/3 innings April 27.
He took a step back in his last start, allowing five earned runs and eight hits Sunday against Seattle, but the Mariners had seen him only 10 days earlier.
"It's nice to go out and prove people right when they give you an opportunity, and I'm going to go out and do the same thing I've been doing and prepare well and try to execute really well," said McHugh, who's 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts.
While the Astros have lost eight of their last 10 games, the first-place Orioles have won four in a row. Gonzalez will make his seventh start of the season and third career start against the Astros, who he beat last July 31 by tossing six innings and allowing one earned run.
McHugh, meanwhile, is hoping to rebound from his shaky start last time out.
"We got kicked around a little bit, but for the most part we're doing the same thing [as the first two starts]," he said. "When a pitcher's doing what he wants to do, it's tough to beat him, no matter who it is."
Astros: Albers not close to returning
Reliever Matt Albers, the former Orioles pitcher, was hoping to throw a simulated game Friday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but he didn't feel quite right while warming up and decided not to give it a go.
"I wouldn't say a step back, but not really a move forward," he said. "It just didn't feel like the right decision to try to push it today to throw a full-out sim game. Just give it a little more time. I'm disappointed and a little frustrated, but I don't want to make things worse. It just didn't feel right today, and I want to see how it feels the next few days."
Albers has been on the disabled list since April 22 with right shoulder tendinitis and might be looking at a Minor League rehab assignment down the road.
"Today it felt like I was on schedule and throwing well," he said. "The more and more I tried to let it go, it didn't feel like it was there."
Orioles: Davis ready for rehab stint
Chris Davis will go to Double-A Bowie on Saturday for his first rehab assignment. Davis, on the DL due to a strained left oblique muscle, looked very good in batting practice before Friday's series opener with the Astros, so he'll head down to Bowie for a Saturday night game. He'll be re-evaluated after that contest and is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.
The first baseman was placed on the DL on April 27 (retroactive to April 26) after the injury. Davis was batting .250 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 22 games.
• Orioles outfielder Adam Jones got an infield single in the sixth inning of Friday's game. That's his 10th infield single already this season.
• Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single off Feldman leading off the first inning in Friday's game. During the streak, six hits have come in his first at-bat.
• Astros rookie outfielder George Springer saw his eight-game hitting streak come to an end by going 0-for-4 on Friday.