Not much gets by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve these days. Rays starter Jake Odorizzi will be the next to try as he toes the rubber opposite right-hander Jake Buchanan, who will be making his Major League debut on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Altuve, who did not start against the Rays last week in Houston after he was hit on the hand by a pitch, has batted 11-for-18 since then. He finished 3-for-5 in Friday night's 3-1 Astros win, becoming the first player in the Major Leagues this season to reach 100 hits.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Astro has reached 500 hits as quickly as Altuve, who did so in his 426th career contest.
"He has an extreme passion and desire to be the best," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "When you couple that with the skill sets, the hand-eye coordination, the bat speed, the overall attention to detail … I saw him in the video room with [George] Springer today, just talking hitting. He really has matured in his overall aspect of being the best player he can possibly be."
Odorizzi has been good of late, but he has had little luck ending a skid that has seen him win only one game in his past 13 starts. He has gone 1-4 with a 3.38 ERA and held opponents to a .206 batting average in his past eight turns.
However, he was dissatisfied with his command issues in his latest outing, during which he limited the Orioles to two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was happy to battle through after throwing 42 of his 93 pitches in the first two frames.
"The thing I thought was important out of that was I started off with a high pitch count in the first two, three innings and I should have been able to get through six right there after a shaky start, where at the beginning of the year, it seems like each inning was 20-plus pitches after that -- I was approaching 100 pitches when I was still in the fourth, fifth inning," Odorizzi said. "The other day, it wasn't like that. I was able to get a quick inning, get quick outs after that, and that was something that just wasn't happening for me earlier in the year. It was still good."
Odorizzi, who has surrendered three earned runs in his past 12 2/3 innings, enjoyed his best start of the season two trips through the rotation ago, on June 10. He gave up only one run on three hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Cardinals. He took a loss, 1-0.
The key to Odorizzi's success that night was, in part, due to his throwing inside more than usual. The new wrinkle threw off the St. Louis batters.
"For that, it's just moving the ball around, not giving them just one area of the plate to look at," Odorizzi said. "Because when they do that, they can just focus on that area and put a good swing on it."
Astros: Buchanan to make MLB debut as Peacock rests
Jake Buchanan got the call from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make his Major League debut on Saturday in place of Brad Peacock, who battled through a bout with food poisoning following his start Sunday against the Rays in Houston.
Peacock threw a light bullpen Friday without any problems, but Porter elected to give the right-hander extra rest anyway.
Buchanan is 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 14 outings (13 starts) for the RedHawks this season.
Rays: Highly touted prospect on comeback trail
Taylor Guerrieri, the Rays' No. 2 prospect, faced hitters for the first time on Friday as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Via his Twitter account (@TaylorG1201), Guerrieri said: "Threw to hitters for the first time today. Big thanks to Marty Demerritt, Joel Smith, Joe Benge & everyone else who helped me thru this!!"
Tampa Bay selected Guerrieri in the first round with the 24th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
• Odorizzi is 1-3 with a 3.16 ERA in eight starts at home compared with 1-4 with a 7.16 ERA in six road starts.
• The Astros have won nine of their past 14 road games. Their 16 road wins are more than halfway to their 2013 total of 27.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.