Rocky third, WP call shorten Paulino's debut

Rookie throws 45 pitches in inning that included controversial wild pitch

September 8th, 2016

CLEVELAND -- Rookie right-hander didn't give the Astros the pick-me-up they desperately needed for a starting pitcher, lasting just three innings in Thursday's 10-7 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field in his Major League debut.

Paulino, who threw 45 pitches in a lengthy third inning that included a controversial no-call of what should have been a foul ball off the bat of , allowed four runs and four hits. That's the eighth consecutive game in which an Astros starting pitcher didn't pitch past the fifth inning. The starters have a 8.37 ERA in that span.

"I think [Paulino] warmed up OK," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "As the game got underway, I thought he started to loosen up a little bit. ... The velocity was an uptick in the second inning, his breaking ball got a little bit better.

"The third inning just took forever. He didn't end at-bats, and he couldn't get out of the inning without 40-plus pitches. It was a big ask for us to expect him to go pretty deep in the game. I thought as he started the game, it was pretty interesting the angle he has, the breaking ball he has, but the third inning took a long time, took a lot of pitches out of him and ended his day."

Paulino, who spent most of the season in Double-A, is 6-foot-7 and has impressive stuff. He was throwing his fastball in the lower 90s in the first inning, but was hitting closer to the mid-90s later in his outing. Early in the game, he couldn't get a grip on his curveball, but started throwing it better later.

"I felt really good, thank God," the Astros' No. 4 prospect said. "I didn't feel any pressure on myself before I went out there. I felt like it was just another day. I felt good out there."

Where the Astros go with Paulino remains to be seen. They're without starters (shoulder) and (elbow) and are in need of a starter for Tuesday's game against the Rangers. , who made a spot start Tuesday, could be an option, along with Paulino.

The starters face a huge challenge this weekend against the Cubs, who will run out (15-4, 2.61 ERA), (9-7, 3.36 ERA) and (16-6, 2.84 ERA) against (2-3, 5.06 ERA), (9-10, 4.96 ERA) and (10-6, 4.29 ERA).