HOUSTON — RHP Nathan Karns makes his first start in Houston tonight for the Rays, but the script could have been much different.
Karns was drafted by the Astros in the 10th round, 309th overall, out of Arlington (Texas) Martin High in 2006 but didn't sign.
Karns, 27, said it wasn't much of a decision to pass on pro ball at the time and go to college at N.C. State (and later transfer to Texas Tech to be closer to his mom, who was battling illness at the time).
"Pretty easy," he said. "They didn't offer anything. Communication was very limited. I just kind of moved on from that situation and got ready for college. It was really that easy for me. … It was something that I wanted (being drafted), but at the same time I wasn't going to sell myself short. So I thought the best route at that time was college. And it worked out for me in the long run, so I'm happy."
Karns was drafted again three years later by the Nationals in the 12th round, 352nd overall. He signed for $225,000, rehabbed from shoulder surgery, made it the majors by 2013 and was traded to the Rays in spring 2014.
He takes the mound tonight certain that his rough five-walk, 42/3-inning outing Friday in his Arlington hometown was "just one of those days" and confident he will be better.
HELP ON THE WAY: RHP Matt Andriese was called up from Triple-A Durham on Tuesday after being a healthy scratch from his scheduled start, joining the Rays as an extra arm out of the bullpen. LHP Enny Romero was optioned back to Durham after pitching a scoreless inning during Monday night's 9-2 win over the Astros.
Andriese has appeared in 12 games with the Rays this season, including seven starts, and has a 3-2 record with a 3.11 ERA and two saves.
NATIONAL PRIDE: RHP Erasmo Ramirez on Monday became just the fourth Nicaraguan-born pitcher to win at least 10 games in a season, joining RHPs Dennis Martinez (a high of 16 four times), Vicente Padilla (15) and Albert Williams (11).
"It's fun to join those guys who made history and now be with them in the book," Ramirez said. "It's kind of awesome. And we don't want to stop."
HOME BOY: Keuchel, the AL All-Star starter, is obviously pretty good overall, evidenced by his 14-6, 2.36 mark. But he is even better within the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park, a remarkable 11-0, 1.26 in 13 starts, allowing only a .182 average and 11 extra-base hits (all doubles).
"Their whole team is good here at home," Cash said. "It's going to be a tough matchup, similar to (Monday with LHP Scott) Kazmir. It's a guy when you get guys on base, you've got to somehow manufacture whatever you can to get 'em in because if you give him the opportunity to get into cruise control mode, he's definitely proven he's capable of doing that."
The Rays have won 16 of their past 20 games against lefty starters, 21 of 34 overall.
MINOR MATTERS: After hustling to Louisville on Monday morning to join Triple-A Durham after his demotion, INF Richie Shaffer went 2-for-5 with an RBI. … LHP Matt Moore worked seven innings for the Bulls, allowing three runs on eight hits with no walks. In three starts since being sent down, Moore is 2-0, 3.57.
MISCELLANY: OF Desmond Jennings was not in the Tuesday lineup, an expected move after he played four straight following his Friday return from the DL after left knee surgery. … The Rays on Monday posted their fifth straight game of double-digit hits, their longest such streak since 2012 and two shy of the team record set in 2005. … With 2B Tim Beckham hitting a three-run homer and SS Asdrubal Cabrera knocking in three runs, Monday was the first game the Rays got three RBIs from both middle infielders since 2B Ben Zobrist and SS Elliot Johnson did so June 9, 2012, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.