MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - INSIDE PITCH

HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Jon Singleton struck out four times in four plate appearances on Thursday night against the Cleveland Indians and, given his woeful stretch of hitting, that game might have represented his final start of his rookie season.

Singleton was benched on Friday after entering the Astros' final homestand batting .169/.298/.339 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs over 90 games and mired in an 0-for-20 slump. He has 22 strikeouts and just four hits in September. Since his last multi-RBI game Aug. 22, Singleton is batting .091/.286/.182 with 31 strikeouts in 70 plate appearances.

"He wants to play but he's struggling so badly," Astros interim manager Tom Lawless said. "You don't want to beat him up so badly he's toast.

"It's a struggle. He's a young kid up here and everybody expects so much out of him because of who he is and what he did in the minor leagues."

The Astros are banking on the 23-year-old Singleton to develop into a star. They guaranteed him $10 million upon his promotion from Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 3 but have seen little return on that investment. Singleton would rank fifth in the majors in walk rate (14.2 percent) if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Conversely, his 36.8 percent strikeout rate would far and away lead baseball, and the lack of quality at-bats over the past month facilitated his benching and Lawless' admission that Singleton will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties.

"He didn't get off to a good start and then he couldn't get himself going," Lawless said. "And then it just piled up on him. Now he's trying so hard that nothing works for him. He's just got to sit back and get away from it for a while."


MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 67-87

STREAK: Lost four

NEXT: Mariners (RHP Chris Young, 12-8, 3.33 ERA) at Astros (LHP Dallas Keuchel, 11-9, 3.00 ERA)


--LHP Darin Downs left in the eighth inning due to discomfort in his right oblique. Downs surrendered a home run to the lone batter he faced, Mariners LF Dustin Ackley. Downs missed 16 games after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain on Aug. 15.

--2B Jose Altuve finished 3-for-3 with an RBI, recording his franchise-record 24th three-hit game this season. Craig Biggio held the previous club mark of 23 set in 1998. Altuve has 216 hits this season, the most by a second baseman since Rod Carew recorded 218 in 1974 and tied for the most by a Venezuelan-born player (Magglio Ordonez, 2007).

--RF Jake Marisnick recorded his second consecutive multi-hit game and third in six starts by finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI. Marisnick is now batting .300 (36-for-120) over his last 37 games dating to Aug. 8.

--SS Jonathan Villar went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, recording his first multi-RBI game since May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. His two-hit game is his second since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sept. 2.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He was one of the best hitters when he played in Venezuela. I'm happy to tie him for hits in a season." -- 2B Jose Altuve, after tying Magglio Ordonez for the most hits in a season by a Venezuelan-born player (216) on Friday.