SEATTLE -- Astros manager Bo Porter admitted Wednesday he's concerned about the inability of his left-handed relief pitchers to get outs.
Kevin Chapman began the season as the only lefty in the bullpen, but he was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City after allowing seven walks, five hits and five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Veteran Raul Valdes was called up and has given up three walks, two hits and three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
"When you have just one [lefty] down there, they're down there for that specific reason," Porter said. "You would like to be able to bring them in the game and know that they're going to throw strikes. Whether or not you get the guy out is the second part of it.
"There's no defense for walks. You don't even get a chance of defending the ball. That's more so been our problem in that lefty-lefty matchup situation, is we're walking them on base and giving up hits after that, which is definitely not good."
That being said, Porter said he feels comfortable using right-handers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers against lefties.
"That's why we felt comfortable with just having one [lefty in the bullpen]," Porter said. "With that being said, even the one you have down there, they have to be able to win that matchup, left on left."
Day after gem, McHugh gets back to work
SEATTLE -- Fresh off his dazzling 12-strikeout performance Tuesday night, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh arrived at Safeco Field on Wednesday morning ready to get back to work and prepare for his next start, which could come Sunday.
"It's always been preached and kind of driven into my head from an early age that yesterday is yesterday," he said. "When I got up today, I said, 'OK, let's get back to work.' I got here and got my work in, and it's time to get going."
McHugh delivered one of the Astros' best pitching performances in recent memory, striking out 12 and allowing only three hits and no walks in 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-2 win over Seattle.
McHugh, called up after ace Scott Feldman was placed on the disabled list Monday, became the first Astros pitcher to record 12 strikeouts with no walks or runs allowed since Randy Johnson in 1998. It was the second-most strikeouts in an Astros debut (J.R. Richard fanned 15 in 1971).
McHugh's family was following the game back home in Atlanta via MLB.TV. In fact, his wife, Ashley, was throwing a surprise going away party for some friends at a bar late Tuesday night, an event which turned into a viewing party for McHugh's gem.
"Everybody was huddled around her little iPhone watching it," he said. "She said it was a real good time. A lot of people were rooting for me back home. I've been in baseball a little while and with a lot of different teams. It's fun to get to hear from them and reconnect."
The Astros are still listing Sunday's starter as TBA. That would be McHugh's turn in the rotation.
Astros give Presley third straight start in left
SEATTLE -- Alex Presley started in left field in all three games of the series against the Mariners as Astros manager Bo Porter continued to go with the hot hand. Presley was 5-for-8 with two runs scored in the first two games of the series, in addition to making a nice leaping catch at the wall and getting an outfield assist Tuesday.
Presley didn't play in the three games against Oakland prior to coming to Seattle because he was ill. He was originally in the starting lineup Friday before being scratched.
"It had him on the mat for three days," Porter said. "It was good he came back this series and swung the bat well and played good defense and has given our lineup a spark."
Presley, a left-handed hitter claimed off waivers March 27, has shown his versatility by playing five games in left, seven in right and three in center so far this year. He struggled with the bat to start the year, but entered Wednesday on a three-game hitting streak.
"I'm used to not getting everyday at-bats," he said. "It's not easy. It's one of the tougher things to do in baseball. You want to stay in as good a rhythm as you can, and consecutive starts definitely helps."
Astros want more versatility from offense
SEATTLE -- Home runs had accounted for 59.4 percent of the Astros' runs entering Wednesday, which is largely a product of the team's struggles with runners in scoring position. Houston ranked last in the Majors in batting average with runners in scoring position (.167) and batting average on balls in play (.233), which doesn't take into account home runs.
The Astros began play Wednesday tied for second with the White Sox in the American League with 25 home runs. The Angels, behind eight homers from Albert Pujols, ranked first in the AL with 31 homers. But the Astros were 29th in the Majors in RBIs (61), while the White Sox and Angels ranked second and third, respectively.
"You don't want to live and die with the long ball," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I will say, in the last few days we've been able to get some big two-out hits and hits with men in scoring position. Even the outs we're making, the at-bats have been real quality. That's not something you want to make a habit of, the majority of your runs coming via the home run. You want to string quality at-bats together with men in scoring position and use the whole field."
The Astros were 7-6 in games in which they had homered and 0-8 in games in which they didn't homer. They also ranked tied for first in the AL with seven multihomer games.