(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Astros welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Minute Maid Park on Friday night to kick off a three-game series between last-place teams.
Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb is in search of his first win since April 12, a span of five starts. He gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings against Seattle last weekend. Over his last three starts, opponents are hitting .358 against the right-hander.
"It's boring pitcher talk, but there's a couple of different things that were leading to one another -- the main factor being rushing down the hill a little bit, letting your body go down before your arm was caught up," Cobb said.
Starting for Houston is Collin McHugh, who also lasted only 4 1/3 innings his last time on the mound. In that outing, the right-hander issued five walks to go along with six strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on three hits.
"When you walk guys like that, you're giving guys free bases and your pitch count is going through the roof," said McHugh, who threw 101 pitches.
Still, McHugh has gone 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA over his last three starts, all victories for the Astros.
Houston is coming off Thursday's 5-4 walk-off win over Arizona in the 10th inning. Rookie Jon Singleton homered for the third time in his first 10 games, but the real hero was Chris Carter, who delivered the game-winning homer after going deep twice in Wednesday's 5-1 victory.
"It's been real exciting compared to last year, it's like night and day," Carter said. "Last year we lost a bunch of games and guys were down on themselves and it just kind of seemed like there was a really bad vibe and this year everyone's excited, jumping around, having fun."
Manager Bo Porter shared similar sentiments after his team's sixth win in its last eight games.
"I think these guys have always played with tremendous energy," Porter said. "You look at the way we've played over this stretch, where we've been winning a lot of close games, we've had some adversity and battled back from adversity and been able to overcome it. These guys are feeling off that mojo, and it's exciting to see."
However, second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the majors in hits (90) and the American League in stolen bases (24), is unlikely to play after getting hit by a pitch on the right hand during Thursday's win.
"When you get hit by a 90-something-mph fastball, that hurts, especially on the hand," Altuve said. "I didn't know what happened. When I went (for an x- ray) and they said it's not anything, I was really happy."
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is looking to build on Wednesday's 6-3 triumph over St. Louis. Prior to that outcome, the Rays had lost four straight and 14 of 15 overall as they continue to lay claim to the worst record in the majors (25-42).
The Rays exploded for four runs in the fourth inning to snap a franchise- record 31-inning scoreless drought. Now, they'll look to end a 10-game road losing streak.
This is the first meeting of the season between these two clubs.