Astros starter Jarred Cosart needs a blank slate -- and Saturday's game against the Marlins at Minute Maid Park might provide the perfect backdrop for him.
The 24-year-old has never faced the Marlins before. In fact, the only Miami player he's seen in his career is Jarrod Saltalamacchia when the catcher was with the Red Sox last year. And Saltalamacchia went 2-for-2 with a double against him.
Cosart recognizes that the Marlins, who put up 11 hits against the Astros on Friday, can do some damage. Every player in the lineup, actually, had at least one hit in the series opener.
"They've got some juice in the middle of the order and some guys before that that can get on base," Cosart said. "You do the research, you can, but again, it's going to be more my strength vs their strength, and I think they're thinking the same thing. They haven't seen me."
Cosart has had an up-and-down season, which has resulted in a 4.23 ERA despite a stretch of 10 starts in May and June in which he went 7-3 while allowing just 19 earned runs in 64 innings.
Across his last three starts, he has tossed 15 2/3 innings and yielded 14 earned runs for an 8.04 ERA in July. His recent slide can be attributed to an increased WHIP of 2.23 during the month.
It's been a different story for Marlins starter Tom Koehler, who has made some progress since his three-inning outing on July 7 at Arizona, where he allowed seven earned runs.
Over his last two starts, Koehler has allowed four runs in 13 innings. He had no decisions in those contests, but pitched deep into the games.
This series is the first Miami has played in Houston since the Astros switched to the American League in 2013. And that's something Koehler, who will be facing them for the first time in his career on Saturday, still isn't used to.
"It's weird. We were talking to guys earlier, and we were like, 'We get to hit here.' I was like, 'No, it's the DH,'" Koehler reminded. "It's definitely different. Growing up as far as I can remember, Houston was a National League city."
Marlins: Trying to sustain momentum
After taking three of four in Atlanta for the first time since 2007, the Marlins are looking to build on some momentum in Houston. Miami has not won back-to-back series on the road in the same trip all season.
"Every game is important this time of year," manager Mike Redmond said. "We know where we are in the standings. We've got a lot of ground to cover. Every series is big for us right now. We've got to keep trying to win ballgames. That's it.
Astros: Somewhat older Petit added to lineup
Gregorio Petit is a veteran in every other way than by Major League standards. The 29-year-old infielder played 1,094 Minor League games and hit .271 across them. But he's still a rookie, since he only appeared in 25 games and recorded 54 at-bats between stints with Oakland in 2008 and '09.
Called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, it didn't take long for Petit to get his first Major League hit in five years. He knocked a single in his first at-bat for Houston -- one of just three hits the Astros recorded on Friday -- and ended the night 1-for-2, as he was pinch-hit for in the ninth inning by Marc Krauss.
Petit had surgery on his right ACL in 2011, making him appreciate his third career callup in a different way than his first two.
"When you're young, you're waiting for that shot, and you know at one point you might get it," Petit said. "Then age goes by, time goes by. I'm not 21 anymore, not 22 anymore, and I got knee surgery [in 2011]. I missed a year, and after that, I just decided to enjoy the game even more and take advantage of every opportunity."
• Chris Carter entered Friday night's game leading the American League with seven homers and a .758 slugging percentage in the month of July, even though he's hitting just .212 this season. Carter was 0-for-1 with two walks vs. Miami.
• Having the DH in Houston allows the Marlins to use both of their principal catchers. Jeff Mathis got the start behind the plate for lefty Brad Hand on Friday, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia was used as the DH. The pair went 2-for-8, including the decisive two-run double from Mathis in the seventh inning.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.