SEATTLE -- After alternating on a daily basis between Ronny Cedeno and Marwin Gonzalez at shortstop the first eight games of the season, Astros manager Bo Porter started Gonzalez for the second day in a row Wednesday, a result of his hot start at the plate.
"I think he's doing a good job and earned the right to get more starts, and that's why he's back in there tonight," Porter said.
Gonzalez went 3-for-3 with a homer, three runs scored and two walks in Tuesday's 16-9 win over the Mariners, raising his batting average to .400 and his on-base percentage to .500 in five games played. And don't forget it was Gonzalez who broke up Yu Darvish's perfect game bid a week ago with a two-out single in the ninth.
"He's always been known for his defense, and he's starting to put together good at-bats as well," Porter said. "In Spring Training, he got off to a hot start and kind of cooled off as spring went along and picked it up at the end of spring. He's off to a tremendous start early. We know what he can do defensively. His ability to play every day in the big leagues will be based on his ability to handle Major League pitching night in and night out."
Gonzalez said he's not worried about playing time.
"I just want to play my game and be relaxed," he said. "All that we want to do is win the game. I hope to keep doing well, and I hope the best for Ronny, too."
Clemens shares first victory with family
SEATTLE -- Perhaps the best thing Paul Clemens was able to take away from his first Major League appearance Tuesday, along with his first career win, was being able to share it with his father, Michael Clemens, and brother, Michael Jr., both of whom were in the stands at Safeco Field.
"It was an unbelievable experience," said Clemens, who threw four innings in relief in the Astros' 16-9 win, earning a shaving cream pie to the face. "I heard from a lot of family and friends and former pitching instructors, guys that have helped me get here."
Clemens will be presented with the game ball and scorecard after they're authenticated. He plans to give both to his father, who shared a lunch with his sons on Seattle's waterfront Wednesday before flying home to Pennsylvania.
Clemens also received a stylish toiletry travel bag from teammate Rick Ankiel.
"But I heard once they do something like that for you, you get to do a lot for them," Clemens said, smiling from ear to ear. "This team has been great. This team is phenomenal from top to bottom. The bullpen guys have been great to me, and catchers -- [Carlos] Corporan and [Jason] Castro -- it's been a pleasure working with those two guys, and having an offense at any given time put up that many runs is awesome."
Struggling Wallace gets mental break
SEATTLE -- Brett Wallace, take the day off. That was the message Astros manager Bo Porter delivered on Wednesday to the first baseman, who went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts during the team's 22-hit outburst a night earlier. Wallace is 1-for-21 with 17 strikeouts this season.
"Sometimes you need to take a step back," Porter said. "You can be trying so hard with extra work and video and reading game reports and over analyzing each and every at-bat to where you probably need to take a step back. We're going to give him the day off, we have an off-day on Thursday, and Friday send him back in there. I think the results are going to be in a more positive light for Brett."
Wallace singled in his second at-bat of the season on March 31 against the Rangers, but has gone 0-for-19 with 16 strikeouts since.
"I think the thing that's kind of crazy is swing-wise, I feel pretty good and my swing feels like it's not that far off," he said. "It's just timing and contact point adjustments that need to be made. I think that's one of the things you just have to keep your head down and keep working, and the more at-bats you get, you see the ball travel and let it get a little deeper and go from there."
Wallace, who hit .273 in the spring with 14 strikeouts in 73 at-bats, said hitting is about feel for him. He says one solid swing, one solid piece of contact and barreling up the ball could be all that's needed to break him out of his slump.
"My batting practice and all my work before and after has been good and my swing feels good," he said. "I feel I'm where I need to be, and it's a matter of getting one or two swings that feel good and being able to repeat it."