Scott Kazmir will make his Cleveland Indians debut on Saturday night when he takes the hill for the second contest of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros and tough-luck starter Philip Humber.
The 29-year-old Kazmir opened the season on the disabled list due a strained right rib cage, but after a solid rehab start on Monday with Triple-A Columbus he is set to make just his second major league start since 2010 and first since April 3 of last year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The oft-injured lefty, who was born in Houston, earned a spot in Cleveland's rotation after going 1-0 with a 3.46 earned run average in four appearances in spring training, including two starts. In his rehab outing on Monday, Kazmir allowed just one unearned run over five innings and struck out five in the victory.
"If anything, that will help him," Indians manager Terry Francona told his team's website of Kazmir not having pitched in the majors for a while. "He's very excited about it. We just have to get him stretched out. He can pitch. He's not going to be nervous."
A first-round pick of the New York Mets in 2002, Kazmir lost his only previous career meeting with the Astros. He allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings of work on June 22, 2008 while with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Astros, meanwhile, turn to their most consistent pitcher so far in Humber, who is 0-3 through his three starts despite a 2.89 ERA. He has given up six runs over his 18 2/3 innings this season, but the Astros have scored just one run in his three outings.
The right-hander gave up two runs on seven hits over seven innings on Sunday versus the Angels, but lost a 4-1 decision.
"Humber was outstanding," Astros manager Bo Porter said of his starter. "He was efficient with his pitches."
Humber, 30, is winless in his career versus the Indians, going 0-2 with an 8.74 ERA in seven outings (5 starts).
With both teams looking to snap losing streaks in Friday's opener, it was the Astros who found the win column with a 3-2 victory, their first in six games.
Houston picked up all of its runs in the second inning as Rick Ankiel followed a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez with a solo blast. Martinez, though, did not finish the game after suffering a sprained right knee on a check-swing in the fourth inning, leaving him day-to-day.
Astros starter Lucas Harrell gave up five hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings, but the only runs he allowed came on Lonnie Chisenhall's two-run homer in the fourth inning.
"I was struggling to throw strikes again," Harrell said. "If the defense wouldn't have played so well and we didn't score some runs early, it could have been a rough night."
The bullpen combination of Wesley Wright, Hector Ambriz and Jose Veras closed out Harrell's first win of the season and handed the Indians a fifth straight loss. Veras survived a one-out single in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season.
Cleveland starter Brett Myers continued his struggles out of the gate as the former Astro lasted just five innings and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. The right-hander has yielded 10 homers already this season.
"His velocity was a little down tonight," Indians manager Terry Francona said of his starter.
The Astros won two of three matchups with Cleveland last season. It was the first series between the teams since Houston won two of three back in 2001.