The Tigers' Doug Fister and the Astros' Bud Norris are five-year Major League veterans, but both will venture into uncharted territory on Friday night, when they square off in the second of a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.
With the Astros in their first season in the American League and facing only their second series against the Tigers since 2006, neither hurler comes in with any experience against their opponent.
The Astros will be trying to even the series after the Tigers outlasted them for a 7-3, 14-inning victory on Thursday night. Houston has lost seven of its past eight, while Detroit has won six of seven.
Fister has found success against everyone in his path this season, going 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA. The right-hander has logged at least seven innings in four straight starts and struck out a season-high eight without issuing a walk on Sunday against Atlanta.
Norris (3-3, 4.20) has a 2.45 ERA outside of one rough outing at Oakland on April 17. The righty is responsible for two of Houston's seven quality starts, which ranks them last in the Majors. That's a number manager Bo Porter hopes his rotation can turn around soon, especially coming off Thursday night's marathon, in which he deployed all seven of his relievers.
"It just puts a strain on those guys in the bullpen," Porter said of his starters' short outings.
Tigers: Putkonen enters with a bang
• Right-hander Luke Putkonen was called up to join the Tigers bullpen on Thursday, when Bruce Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. He entered the game in the 12th and pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, holding the Astros scoreless and striking out four to notch his first Major League victory.
"He could be good if he's a multi-inning guy, which is something we need," manager Jim Leyland said before the game. "He's got a pretty good repertoire. He'll be in the mix like everybody else."
• Leyland likes Minute Maid Park better than the old Astrodome, but he does have one gripe. Asked if he had given center fielder Austin Jackson any advice about how to play Tal's Hill, which protrudes from the turf in deep center, he joked, "I tell him if they hit it over his head, go run up the hill."
"It's a very nice, attractive ballpark," Leyland said. "I'm not crazy about the hill."
Astros: Things picking up for Grossman
• Rookie center fielder Robbie Grossman went 2-for-5 with a double and a walk on Thursday, his first multi-hit effort since his debut on April 24. The 23-year-old has hit safely in four straight games, raising his average from .091 to .184.
• Catcher Jason Castro has hit safely in a career-high nine consecutive games, going 12-for-31 (.387), with a home run and six doubles.
• Houston recalled right-hander Jordan Lyles and lefty Dallas Keuchel from Triple-A Oklahoma City before Thursday's game. While Lyles started, Keuchel wound up pitching nearly as long, soaking up 4 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.
The club optioned righties Brad Peacock and Rhiner Cruz to Oklahoma City in an effort to shake up a staff that ranks last in the Majors in ERA.
• The only Astros to have faced Fister are Carlos Pena (0-for-6) and Chris Carter (2-for-5 with a home run). The only Tigers to have faced Norris are Prince Fielder (5-for-19 with a home run) and Omar Infante (2-for-9).
• Miguel Cabrera collected his 1,000th hit with the Tigers on Thursday.
• Since April 12, the Tigers have played four games of at least 12 innings. The Astros hadn't gone to extra frames until Thursday.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.