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First games with tandem starters go well

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HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the first day of using tandem starting pitchers in the Minor Leagues went well. Triple-A Oklahoma City was rained out Thursday, but Double-A Corpus Christ, Class A Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities each won their openers.

Luhnow said in February the team would use tandem starters at the beginning of the season, meaning two starters would pitch in the same game. One would start the game and be followed by the other, giving everyone a chance to get innings. Luhnow implemented the practice as farm director in St. Louis.

"I'm familiar reading box scores when we do the tandem system, and what I like to see is the five and four [innings], and we had two of those last night," Luhnow said. "We had three wins in three games, and that was good to see. Lancaster is going to continue to be a challenge because of the conditions, but it was nice to get off to a good start."

At Corpus Christi, Ross Seaton went five innings and was followed by Jake Buchanan for three innings. Jason Stoffel closed it out with an inning. Mike Foltynewicz threw only 2 2/3 innings at Lancaster, which threw a wrench into the plans. Vincent Velasquez threw five innings in his start at Quad Cities, with Joe Bircher following four scoreless.

"We're not planning to do it the whole season," Luhnow said. "I can't tell you when we're going to switch back, but it's an important right now because it gives everybody a chance to have enough innings and enough starts that we can evaluate them properly."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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