HOUSTON -- The timing couldn't have been better for the Astros to make the call to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, as pitchers Jordan Lyles and Dallas Keuchel were brought up just in time to give the team a few much-needed innings.
Lyles started Thursday's, 7-3, 14-inning loss to the Tigers, working five strong innings. But manager Bo Porter went to his strengthened bullpen, unaware of what was to develop.
Seven hurlers -- Travis Blackley (1 1/3 innings), Paul Clemens (2/3 of an inning), Hector Ambriz (2/3 of an inning), Wesley Wright (two batters), Jose Veras (1 1/3 inning), Keuchel (4 1/3 innings), and finally Jose Cisnero (2/3 of an inning) -- paraded to the mound, in order following Lyles, over the final nine innings of the marathon affair.
For eight innings, they collectively held the Tigers to just one run. It was in Keuchel's fifth inning of relief that things unraveled. Still, Porter said he was grateful for their extended work.
"Can you imagine what would happen if we hadn't made those moves?" Porter said. "We would have had to make three moves today."
How does that leave the bullpen for Friday's second game of a four-game series with Detroit?
"We have Bud [Norris] going [Friday]," Porter said. "Cisnero is available, Blackley is available. Ambriz and Veras are available. I think we'll be fine."
Porter indicated the Keuchel and Wright were not available.
Ankiel's defense plays role in 14-inning affair
HOUSTON -- Nobody felt worse about Thursday's 14-inning loss than Rick Ankiel. The Astros outfielder, a defensive substitution in the sixth inning, booted an eighth-inning single that allowed the tying run to score and sent the game into extra innings.
But Ankiel's atonement in the 11th inning, gunning down Detroit's Matt Tuiasosopo at the plate to end the frame, brought some semblance of comfort moving forward.
"The play before, it's just heart wrenching," Ankiel said. "I did everything I wanted to do. I feel like I got there quick and I slowed [the ball] down. I misjudged the hop there. Those things happen. It's just unfortunately timing for me and the team.
"So then when you're able to make a play later on like that, it definitely helps coping with the play before."
Given reprieve from catching, Castro starts at DH
HOUSTON -- Jason Castro remained in the Astros' lineup on Friday, but not behind the plate. Castro was penciled in as the designated hitter.
"He's been swinging a great bat," manager Bo Porter said. "After a long flight home from New York and 14 innings yesterday, I just felt like it was an opportunity for him not to catch [tonight]."
Carlos Corporan got the start behind the plate for Friday's game.
"In the limited chances he's had, he has swung the bat well, also," Porter said. "Getting both of those bats in the lineup should help us tonight."
Porter noted that Corporan's sore hamstring was improved.
"He's fine," Porter said. "It was sore for a couple of days. But the trainers have given good reports and he's ready to go."
Astros catchers entered Friday leading the American League and second in the Majors with a combined .307 batting average. Castro was on a career-high nine-game hitting streak (14-for-36), while Corporan was hitting .471 (8-for-17) in his last five games.
"I've just been feeling real comfortable in the box," Castro said. "I've been trying to build off what I was doing in Spring Training with a little adjustment in my swing. I've been real happy with the way it's been going. It's something that I don't have to think about anymore. It's more of a naturally integrated part of my swing now."
Though he didn't know he was part of the top hitting catching corps in the league, Castro said his counterpart has more than done his share.
"Corp does a tremendous job of stepping in," Castro said. "On his days to play he's more than ready. He's done it offensively and defensively.
"We have a really good relationship, so we kind of go back and forth with each other. He's a fun guy to work with."
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.