Astros-Tigers preview

DETROIT -- The Houston Astros are a little pinched in the outfield and on the bench until center fielder Carlos Gomez gets back into action.

Houston plays the middle of a three-game weekend series in Detroit on Saturday night with Mike Fiers facing Justin Verlander in a matchup of right-handers.

Doug Fister didn't travel with Houston -- he's not scheduled to start again until Monday -- to be with his wife awaiting the birth of their first child. The Astros will place Fister on paternity leave once the baby's birth is imminent and at that time could add an extra player to alleviate the bench shortage.

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They had another setback Friday night when first baseman Marwin Gonzalez had to come out in the seventh due to right hand soreness. If Gonzalez, who is listed as day-to-day, can't play for a game or two, that would leave Houston with just its backup catcher as its reserve.

Gomez suffered a mild hamstring pull Wednesday and Friday said he hoped to be able to play Sunday.

"I don't want to put a date on it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. He's got to run first."

Houston added infielder Tyler White when it placed Luis Valbuena on the 15-day disabled list but that still left the club with just catcher Jason Castro and outfielder Preston Tucker as useable reserves and it had to hold Castro in reserve Friday in case something happened to starter Evan Gattis.

"We had to make a move," Hinch said. "We're pretty banged up."

Houston is facing Detroit's best pitcher over the last decade, Verlander, on Saturday night. Verlander is going for his 11th win after earning his 10th on Monday in Boston.

Verlander (10-6, 3.64 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA for July entering his final start of the month and will be looking to pitch Detroit to its fifth straight win after Tyler Collins, Justin Upton and James McCann homered in Friday's 14-6 win after the Tigers fell behind in the first inning.

"Once we scored two, it's a fresh game," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "Looking at it from the opponent's point of view the last thing you want to do and we've done it, is when you score runs, you don't want to give up runs the next half-inning.

"But when you're in our situation, down a couple runs, best thing you can do is score a couple runs, get back in it, tie it, or even score more, take the lead. But it basically reset the game."

Over his career, Verlander is 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA against the Astros in six starts.

In Fiers, Detroit will be facing a pitcher who is 1-0 against it in three career starts. He beat the Tigers earlier this season in Houston. His career ERA against the Tigers is 3.24.

Fiers (7-4, 4.69 ERA) won his last start, allowing three runs in seven innings to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Tigers brought lefty Daniel Norris back to Detroit following his second rehab start (three runs, six innings) but Ausmus declined to reveal exactly when he gets plugged back into the rotation next week.

Rookie Michael Fulmer has his next start pushed back because Detroit has two days off between them. But exactly when he starts again is partially contingent on when Norris and the other Tigers starter on a rehab assignment, Jordan Zimmermann, get slotted back into the rotation.

Norris worked Thursday so he could be dropped back into the rotation Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. If Zimmerman comes out of his rehab start Friday well he could pitch Wednesday.

But Ausmus is likely to have Fulmer work one of three games against the White Sox.

Detroit made two minor league moves Friday. It promoted hard-throwing closer prospect Joe Jimenez to Triple-A Toledo and also signed former Texas lefty Cesar Ramos to a Triple-A contract.