Brad Peacock's return to the rotation comes against some Oakland players with whom he is quite familiar.
Peacock, who pitched 9 2/3 innings over four games out of the bullpen for the Astros to start the season, will make his first start of 2014 when the Astros try to snap a six-game losing streak Sunday in the series finale against the A's. Peacock took the rotation spot of Lucas Harrell, who was designated for assignment last week.
"I'm definitely excited to get back to my routine and I've been working hard and hopefully I can pick up where I left off last year," said Peacock, who is friends with several A's players.
That's because Peacock spent the 2012 season in the rotation for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento, going 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA. He was traded to the Astros prior to last season and was 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in his final 12 games (nine starts) last year.
"I guess it's just more confidence," Peacock said. "At the beginning of [last] year, I didn't trust my fastball and was throwing it all over the strike zone. This year I'm ready to go. My arm feels great and I'm ready to get out there."
The Astros' struggling offense will be facing one of the game's best pitchers of the moment. He's not a household name, but A's right-hander Jesse Chavez has absolutely dominated in his first three starts, posting a 1.35 ERA, which ranked seventh in the American League entering Saturday.
Opponents are batting just .200 off Chavez. The Astros are only hitting .195 as a team.
Chavez has allowed just one earned run in each of his first three starts, striking out 22 with just two walks in 20 innings, yet he's still looking for his first win. The righty has fanned a career-high nine in each of his last two starts, both of them extending seven innings.
His only mistake in his most recent outing against the Angels was a home run to Albert Pujols.
"That's exactly what we've seen," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's the way he's been pitching for us, even in Spring Training."
Chavez is 0-0 with a 0.92 ERA in 15 career appearances against Houston, all in relief.
Astros: Porter doesn't plan change at closer
After reliever Chad Qualls gave up three runs in the ninth inning in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the A's, Astros manager Bo Porter was asked if he planned to restructure his bullpen. Houston has been going with a closer-by-committee setup, with Qualls, Matt Albers and Josh Fields handling closing duties based on matchups and availability.
"We're going to continue to go with the guys that are down there," Porter said. "That's all we can do. We can't go with somebody who's not down there. The guys down there are going to have to get it done."
Qualls said more defined rolls are nice, but at the end of the day the job of the relievers is to get outs in any situations.
"For the most part, when the phone rings -- you'd like to know when you're going to go in or have a general idea -- but you go out there and do your job," Qualls said. "You're in the big leagues for a reason, because you get guys out. It's not that big of deal."
A's: Crisp expected back in lineup Sunday
Coco Crisp has been in and out of the A's lineup for much of the past two weeks because of injuries to his left wrist and hamstring. The wrist, specifically, has affected his right-handed swing, which is why he was held out of action against Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer on Saturday. But he's expected back in the leadoff spot for Sunday's finale.
"I'm just trying to be careful with him," manager Bob Melvin said. "This is a guy we don't want to lose for a significant period of time. We've come a long way with the injury, and we just want to make sure he's as close to 100 percent as we can get."
Crisp has reached base safely via hit or walk in each of his eight starts.
• Oakland's defense has not been up to par, with an AL-high 18 errors in its first 17 games. The A's committed two in Saturday's contest for the third straight game and have made at least one error in each of the last eight games, their longest streak since June 2011 (nine games).
• Astros rookie outfielder George Springer extended his hitting streak to four games with a ninth-inning double on Saturday that nearly cleared the fence. He's the first Astros player to record hits in his first four Major league games since 2011.
• The A's have a 22-5 all-time record against the Astros, which is the best by a Major League club against another club among teams that have played each other at least 20 times.
• A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has a 14-game hitting streak against the Astros, dating to May 24 of last year.