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HOU@CWS: Clemens solid in first Major League start

With no postseason hopes to play for, both Houston and Minnesota are starting to take a look at their young players with September's expanded rosters.

On Monday, both the Astros and Twins will put two young pitchers on the mound -- a pair of youngsters who have spent some time with their respective teams this year, but neither opponent is familiar with.

Astros right-hander Paul Clemens will make his second start of the season after making 30 relief appearances through 2013.

"It's definitely exciting [to be in the rotation]," Clemens said. "It's something I've done my whole life."

Clemens said it was different pitching out of the bullpen, but the experience allowed him to solidify his game -- especially with the possibility of pitching every day.

"I was lying down at night, thinking what I could have done better," Clemens said. "Making my adjustments to what had happened. Pitching's pitching. But [pitching out of the bullpen] is definitely a different animal. I learned a lot during the bullpen thing. Now I like starting.

"I learned to command my pitches. You can't come out of the bullpen and be over the plate. It's got to be on the black. You've got to have good swing-and-miss pitches. You have to pick your spots if you're going to throw one over the plate."

In his one start, Clemens took a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox last Tuesday. He gave up just one run on four hits and two walks, and fanned two in his six innings. With his previous 30 relief outings, Clemens has a 5.81 ERA.

"I think I have a chance to solidify, in the Astros' eyes, that I can pitch in the Major Leagues," Clemens said. "Prove to everybody that this is where I belong and I'm going to be here until I'm 35, 38."

Meanwhile the Twins will counter Clemens with a young pitcher of their own: Andrew Albers.

After starting his Major League career with 17 1/3 scoreless innings, Albers has earned a 2-2 record through five starts, with a 2.92 ERA over that time. In his last start Wednesday, Albers took a loss, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits through seven innings. The left-hander gave up two home runs in the outing, but fanned two.

"I felt pretty good about it," Albers said after the start. "Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes they made me pay for. That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don't. There were a couple pitches where they were where they shouldn't be. I left a cutter up and a fastball over the plate in situations where that can't happen, and they took advantage of them and made me pay."

Twins: Presley debuts in center
Alex Presley, acquired in the Justin Morneau trade with the Pirates, made his debut Sunday for the Twins in center field. He is expected to see a lot of playing time in September in center and atop the Twins' lineup.

"It's always important when you get the opportunity to contribute and play well," Presley said. "Going into next season, this could be a good springboard for me. I'm looking to take advantage of this opportunity."

Presley went 3-for-4 on the day with an RBI.

Astros: Crowe, De Leon first of September callups
Outfielder Trevor Crowe and right-handed reliever Jorge De Leon joined the Astros on Sunday as the first additions to Houston's expanded rosters.

Crowe got a quick welcome with a spot in the lineup Sunday and a start in center field. He hit .200 in 34 games with Houston throughout 2013 and was placed on the disabled list June 20 with a sprained joint in his right shoulder. He was optioned down on Aug. 11. He went 2-for-4 Sunday.

"It's good to get Trevor back," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's played really well at [Triple-A] Oklahoma City. It gives us flexibility with a guy who can switch-hit, play all three outfield positions. He got a lot of at-bats at OKC. At that point of the season, it was good for him to get the extended playing time."

De Leon didn't see action Sunday, but he carries a 0.60 ERA through 12 outings with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He had 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.

Worth noting
• The Astros snapped a five-game losing streak Sunday against the Mariners.

• Jason Castro has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games at a .412 clip (14-for-34) with four home runs and eight RBIs.

• Brian Dozier's 34 extra-base hits since June 28 leads the league. He had a double Sunday.

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