HOUSTON -- After five-plus seasons in the minor leagues, Astros right-hander Jordan Jankowski finally got the call to the big leagues on Monday. He joined a team in desperate need of his services ahead of a series against the Detroit Tigers.
With the Astros rearranging their pitching staff due in large part to injuries, Jankowski (1-1, 1.42 ERA with Triple-A Fresno) offers the club a long reliever with a capable arsenal and a lengthy track record of success in the Houston farm system.
"Another right-hander down there with a good slider against (the Detroit Tigers) has a chance to be effective," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We wanted him to get to the big leagues over the last few transactions and it hasn't fallen his way, so I'm happy for him.
"There's a great excitement, especially for him. He's been stagnant in Triple-A just outperforming that league for a couple years now. He's got real weapons. He's answered every challenge except major league hitters and major league competition. His fastball-slider combination is really good."
The Astros (30-15) got by without Jankowski on Monday, when four Houston pitchers combined on a one-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Tigers.
Houston wouldn't mind not needing Jankowski's services again Tuesday when Astros right-hander Lance McCullers (4-1, 2.65 ERA) starts against Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 6.25 ERA).
McCullers owns the longest active scoreless-innings streak in the American League at 17. He has not allowed an earned run in three consecutive starts, all on the road. He is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one career start against Detroit.
Zimmermann will make his sixth career appearance against the Astros, against whom he is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. Zimmermann last faced Houston on April 30, 2014, allowing seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 shutout innings.
He is 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings over four career starts at Minute Maid Park.
Detroit (21-22) continues to sputter along, appearing listless offensively in the series opener. Mikie Mahtook's one-out single in the third inning was all that kept Houston from throwing a no-hitter even though the Astros were employing right-hander Brad Peacock as a spot starter.
The Tigers fell to 9-10 this month. They have hovered around .500 for most of this season, seemingly unable to build any measure of positive momentum.
"We are grinding," Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "We know we've got a tough schedule in May. If we can get through May, I know we're going to be OK. We're going to grind, and we're not going to use it as an excuse. Hopefully, we can get some rest today and be ready tomorrow."
Rest might serve as a temporary antidote. The Tigers played late Sunday night at home before traveling and arriving in Houston early Monday morning. After completing the current four-game series, the Tigers will travel to Chicago early Friday morning to contest a straight doubleheader against the White Sox that same day.
"I've played on teams that got no sleep and scored double-digit runs," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Monday. "You don't want to do it regularly. I don't think (fatigue) was an effect today. I just thought it had more to do with their pitching."