4/7/2013 8:30 P.M. ET
Starters effective, but not working deep
By Richard Dean / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Through its first five games of the season, Houston starting pitching led the American League with a combined 2.63 ERA. The four starters -- Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, Philip Humber and Brad Peacock -- had allowed two earned runs or less in each start, with Norris getting two starts.
If there's any drawback with the starters' success, it's that they're not pitching deep into games.
"All of them that have taken the mound have given us an opportunity to win the game," said manager Bo Porter. "If you can get the starting pitching, you'll be in a lot of ballgames.
"You always want your starters to go deep. But at the same time, we're going to monitor certain guys' pitch counts a little more than other guys. And as the games start to progress, you'll let your eyes tell you when a guy should continue on."
In a 122-pitch outing on Saturday, Norris lasted just 5 2/3 innings. Norris has gone 5 2/3 in both of his starts. Harrell went six innings in his first start while Humber pitched 5 2/3 innings and Peacock made it through just 4 1/3 innings.
Through Saturday, Houston starting pitching had allowed only seven earned runs in 27 1/3 innings. The White Sox were second in the league in ERA by starting pitchers at 2.76, followed by the Rays (3.06) and Rangers (3.31).
Astros will see new faces on first road trip
HOUSTON -- After opening their season with a six-game homestand that concluded on Sunday, the Astros will embark on their first road trip of the season. The Astros begin a nine-game, 10-day trip on Monday at Seattle, followed by visits to Anaheim and Oakland.
"They're great cities to play baseball in," said Astros catcher Jason Castro. "I'm excited to have this opportunity and looking forward to getting on the road and having hopefully a successful road trip."
After an off-day on Thursday, the Astros play the Angels Friday-Sunday, followed by three games against the A's. All three teams Houston will play on the road trip are American League West rivals.
"It's a chance to see the rest of our competition in the league," said Castro. "We don't have the opportunity to play them in Spring Training, so it will be the first time we've seen a lot of these guys. It's exciting from that standpoint.
"It's some new cities a lot of us have never been to. So that's another exciting aspect of our first road trip."
The Astros do get a break in Seattle in that they won't face Felix Hernandez in the series.
"I don't know the three guys we're going to see," said manager Bo Porter. "But if he's not pitching, that's good."
In Seattle, the Astros are scheduled to face Joe Saunders, Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan.
"Any time you can miss an ace, that's a plus," said Castro. "He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won the Cy Young for a reason. His stuff is electric. I've watched him on TV and video. It's definitely a challenge and I'm sure we'll have to face him at some point."
Corporan back behind the plate to catch Harrell
HOUSTON -- Carlos Corporan was behind the plate on Sunday afternoon, catching Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell. Jason Castro is Houston's primary catcher.
Corporan last played on Tuesday against the Rangers, also catching Harrell in his first start of the season.
"They've developed a real good rapport, and with today being a day game after a night game, I probably would have given Castro a day off, anyway," said manager Bo Porter. "It just so happens that it aligns up to where Corporan can catch Harrell."
In Spring Training, Corporan caught the majority of Harrell's starts.
• Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez has been claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays. Gonzalez was designated for assignment by the Astros on Friday.
• First baseman Brett Wallace was pinch-hit for with Ronny Cedeno in the eighth inning on Sunday. Wallace was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, including striking out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Wallace is 1-for-17 with 13 strikeouts this season.
Richard Dean is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.