As starters struggle, Cisnero strong in long relief

As starters struggle, Cisnero strong in long relief

HOUSTON -- A concern for the Astros has been the lack of innings they are getting out of the starting pitching. Entering Tuesday's game, six Houston starters in the previous seven games failed to pitch beyond the fifth inning. Three starters did not make it out of the first.

"We just got to do a better job of attacking the strike zone and minimizing our pitches per at-bat," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "There's an underlying theme there. If you attack the strike zone, you make the hitters swing the bat.

"From a pitching standpoint, the more people you put on base, the more opportunity the other team has to score. The deeper you get into counts, the more advantage it goes to the hitter."

In Monday's 7-1 loss to Seattle, right-hander Jose Cisnero made his Major League debut in relief and pounded the strike zone. In 3 2/3 scoreless innings, Cisnero allowed two hits with a walk and a strikeout. Of Cisnero's 47 pitches, 33 were strikes.

"Look at his stat line," Porter said. "He looked composed and in control. He did a tremendous job."

Cisnero was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. Last season, Cisnero went 13-7 with a 3.70 ERA (148 1/3 innings) and 148 strikeouts in 28 combined starts between Oklahoma City and Double-A Corpus Christi.

"He has an explosive fastball, a plus changeup and he has secondary stuff that he can control," Porter said. "When you're able to throw three pitches for a strike and you can get a hitter with a change of speed and then also have a fastball that has late movement, you have a chance to pitch at this level."

Richard Dean is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.