The Houston Astros are gaining confidence in Collin McHugh. The New York Yankees would love to restore their faith in Michael Pineda.
With McHugh looking to build on one of his best performances of the season, Pineda will try to bounce back from the worst of his career and help the Yankees cap this four-game series with a third straight win Sunday.
Houston (43-34) is atop the AL West but has lost six of nine, and turning to the pitcher with the highest ERA among the starting staff may not seem to be an ideal way to recover - especially considering that McHugh (8-3, 4.80 ERA) has a 6.82 ERA at home.
McHugh, however, has won his last two starts on the road behind a 3.21 ERA. He yielded two runs and scattered nine hits Tuesday while going a season-high eight innings of a 13-3 win in Anaheim.
"We have a lot of confidence in him," manager A.J. Hinch told MLB's official website. "We want to see him be more aggressive and he's been more aggressive. He pitched with a lead and he should come out of this with a lot of confidence having gone eight innings, and I think his highest pitch total of the season (114).
"We maintain a pretty good balance around here with our guys and our guys respond favorably."
While McHugh is picking it up lately, Pineda (8-4, 4.25) has been awful in two of his last three starts sandwiched around 6 2-3 innings of one-hit ball against Miami. He gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings at Baltimore on June 12, then was hammered for career highs of eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1-3 of Monday's 11-8 loss to major league-worst Philadelphia.
The right-hander had a 2.72 ERA after seven starts for the Yankees (41-34), but is 3-4 with a 6.10 ERA in his seven since throwing a season-high 111 pitches at Baltimore on May 10 - fueling speculation that he's fatigued.
"It's hard to tell. His last time out, he was as good as he was probably at any time," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "I don't know that we can have the answer to that. I don't think that's the case, but there's no way to know if it is or isn't."
New York's six-run lead in the second inning Saturday was erased before the Yankees emerged with a 9-6 victory.
"It was one of those old-fashioned slugfests," said Mark Teixeira, who had a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth. "Whoever was going to get the big hit at the end of the game was going to win, and we did."
Chris Young is 17 for 37 (.459) with 10 RBIs and 11 runs over the past 10 games. He has six hits in this series and has homered in each of the last two games to plate five runs.
Young is a .407 career hitter in Houston and .336 overall versus the Astros, his highest average against any opponent with at least 60 at-bats.
Brian McCann has a .324 average with 19 RBIs in 20 career games at Minute Maid Park after collecting two hits Saturday, including a grand slam. He's 10 for 27 with three homers and nine RBIs in the past seven contests.
The Astros' Carlos Correa is 8 for 24 with two homers and three doubles while driving in eight runs in his last five games. The rookie shortstop came a triple shy of the cycle Saturday.