Porter rewards Villar with jump to No. 2 spot

Porter rewards Villar with jump to No. 2 spot

DETROIT -- Astros manager Bo Porter moved shortstop Jonathan Villar up to the second spot in the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Tigers. Dexter Fowler, who normally hits second, was moved to third to replace catcher Jason Castro, who was given a day off.

"He's swung the bat well, and I'm just trying to get more guys at the top that will get on base," Porter said of Villar. "Hopefully we get another guy at the top of the lineup with [Jose] Altuve and Fowler -- arguably our three best baserunners. We feel like if we can get those guys on, we can create more run opportunities."

Villar, who has batted ninth for much of this season, didn't start on Wednesday because of a bruised right thumb, but he did pinch-run in the ninth inning, swiping two bases. Villar entered Thursday with 10 hits in his last 12 games, leading all Astros regulars in home runs (five), slugging percentage (.510) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.822).

"He's been outstanding," Porter said. "Even in Spring Training, you could tell he arrived with a different focus. He's been able to slow the game down more so than last year. I think that his attention to detail and preparation has been much improved from last year, and it's been showing in the results. I think he's starting to realize who he is as a player and what he's capable of doing, and he's making great strides."

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.