Miguel Cabrera finds himself on the verge of another impressive milestone.
Detroit's five-game winning streak ended on Wednesday, but the Tigers and the American League's reigning Most Valuable Player will have a clear goal in mind against the Astros over the next three days. The Tigers will be trying to regain control of the chaotic AL Central, and Cabrera is just one hit away from No. 1,000 in five-plus seasons with Detroit.
Cabrera, who joined the Tigers prior to the 2008 season, registered at least 180 hits in each of his first five full seasons in Detroit. The third baseman erupted for the first Triple Crown in over four decades last season by batting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, and he's blazed out to a .371 average with 21 runs scored and 29 RBIs in his first 26 games in 2013.
Detroit is locked in a tight battle with Kansas City atop the division, and the Astros are struggling in their first season in the AL West. The Tigers, who set an AL record with their sixth consecutive game striking out at least 10 opposing hitters on Wednesday, will start Rick Porcello in Thursday's series opener, and the Astros will counter with Jordan Lyles.
Porcello has struggled thus far this season, notching a 1-2 record and an 8.84 ERA in his first five appearances. Much of the damage to his ERA came from his start two outings ago, which saw Porcello allow nine earned runs without escaping the first inning. The Angels touched up Porcello for nine hits in a game they eventually won, 10-0.
Lyles, meanwhile, will assume the rotation spot opened up when right-hander Brad Peacock moved to the bullpen. The 22-year-old Lyles would have started the season in Houston's rotation, but he was instead sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City after a rough spring. He's gone 2-2 with a 5.32 ERA in six games for the RedHawks.
Astros manager Bo Porter said he heard good things from Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco and that Lyles has done a better job attacking hitters and pitching ahead in the count with his offspeed pitches.
"This guy has all the skill sets to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in this league," Porter said. "We're hoping that is the case and the step he took back this spring added motivation to never take it for granted, to give everything he has to not only be in the big leagues, but be an elite pitcher in the big leagues.
"We received outstanding reports, and Tony has raved about his preparation, his demeanor and wanting to get back to the big leagues, and he's done everything we've asked him to do, and we look forward to getting him back here."
Tigers: Hunter stays hot
Torii Hunter is batting .365 in his first 24 games for the Tigers, a run of performance that belies his age. Hunter, who will turn 38 in July, has had a hit in eight of his last 10 games, and his next home run will be No. 299 for his career.
But it might not come against the Astros. Hunter has batted .192 (5-for-26) in nine career games against the Astros. Hunter is batting .348 (16-for-46) in 11 road games so far this season.
Astros: Keuchel to join Houston
In addition to calling up Lyles on Thursday, the Astros will add left-hander Dallas Keuchel from Oklahoma City. Houston will announce corresponding moves before Thursday's game.
Keuchel began the season with Oklahoma City before getting called up April 6 when Travis Blackley went on the disabled list. The 25-year-old made four relief appearances, posting a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, then went back to Oklahoma City on April 21 when Houston's bullpen needed a fresh arm.
• Jose Altuve wasn't just hot in April, he was good enough to break a franchise record held by the great Craig Biggio. Altuve logged 35 hits in April, the most by a Houston second baseman in the season's opening month. Biggio had 33 April hits in 1998, and Altuve and Biggio are tied for third with 31 in 2012 and 1997, respectively.
• The Astros went 3-3 on their last homestand, and they're 8-8 this season in games in which they hit at least one home run.
• Houston is 5-13 against right-handed starters this season, but just 3-6 against southpaws.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.