Liriano struggles in Astros debut, hopes to rebound

Lefty takes loss in brief outing Thursday against Rays

Liriano struggles in Astros debut, hopes to rebound

HOUSTON -- In the past six days, Francisco Liriano has pitched in two different uniforms. Traded from the Blue Jays to the Astros before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Liriano was sent to Houston to serve as a left-handed specialist in the Astros' bullpen, which previously had rookie Reymin Guduan as its only southpaw.

Liriano faced three batters in one-third of an inning in Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Rays at Minute Maid Park, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit and taking the loss.

"It's a great feeling to get the first one out of the way. Didn't go the way I wanted it to, or expected it to," said Liriano, who had last pitched on Saturday in a start for Toronto. "But, like I said, keep my head up and come ready to play tomorrow."

Liriano got right-handed-hitting Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out to right field to begin his 10-pitch appearance, then gave up a single to left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson and walked Lucas Duda, also a left-handed hitter.

"I was trying to do too much," Liriano said. "That's not the first game you want to have."

Liriano entered with a 3-2 lead, but after the top of the seventh, the Astros trailed, 5-3.

"Yeah, we didn't get through that inning very well," manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was pretty symbolic to how things are going for us."

When asked about Liriano's role going forward, Hinch said it will be similar to Thursday's situation -- when the Astros have the lead and several lefties are due up to bat.

"Yeah, ideally," Hinch said. "He can get those guys out. He's gotten them out before. He just lost his command a little bit and didn't execute pitches. But he'll be back in there when we have the opportunity."

Bullpen roster move

The Astros made another move in their bullpen Thursday night, calling up right-hander James Hoyt from Triple-A Fresno and optioning right-hander Jordan Jankowski to the same affiliate. Jankowski was recalled Tuesday, and pitched a scoreless inning against the Rays on Wednesday. Hoyt appeared in 32 games for the Astros earlier this year, posting a 5.54 ERA.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.