After a short-lived stint on top of the American League West, the Astros hit a bump in the final two games of their season-opening series against the Rangers.
Texas set a Major League record by recording 43 strikeouts in the first three games of the season, shutting out the Astros for the second time in as many games in the process. At 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday, right-hander Brad Peacock will face the A's at Minute Maid Park, taking the mound for just the fourth time as a Major Leaguer.
The game will mark Peacock's first time taking the mound against his former club. The righty was rated as the Athletics' top pitching prospect in 2012 before being traded to Houston. The deal signified a homecoming for the Texas native, who made his only three big league appearances with the Nationals in 2011.
The Astros hope the 25-year-old Peacock can keep up the club's string of strong starting pitching to open the season. Peacock posted a 2.78 ERA in 22 2/3 Grapefruit League innings, and Houston starters have a 2.08 ERA through the first three games.
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time, and I'm ready to get going," said Peacock, who was acquired by Houston in February along with outfielder Chris Carter and catcher Max Stassi in exchange for shortstop Jed Lowrie and righty Fernando Rodriguez. "It's felt like forever since I've been out there. Just getting back on the mound, I want to have a good game and I get to see all my buddies from Oakland. It should be fun."
Peacock rounded into shape during Spring Training, cracking the rotation after allowing just two earned runs in his final 16 spring innings. He also recorded 17 strikeouts.
Peacock will face A's right-hander Dan Straily, who led the Minors with 190 strikeouts last season. Straily adjusted well in 39 1/3 innings after being called up last August, managing a 3.89 ERA while logging 32 strikeouts.
Despite finishing with a 5.82 ERA in 21 2/3 Cactus League innings, Straily still is pleased with where he stands entering his 2013 debut.
"I felt a big confidence build," he added on his spring.
The A's and the new American League club haven't seen much of each other in the past. Oakland has played in Houston only one other time -- a three-game Interleague series in 2007, when the A's won two.
Athletics: Barton sent to Triple-A; Stinson claimed by Orioles
The A's announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was sent to Triple-A Sacramento.
Barton batted .206 with two doubles and five RBIs in 17 games this spring before being designated for assignment.
Right-hander Josh Stinson, meanwhile, was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.
The A's originally claimed Stinson off waivers on March 29 and then designated him for assignment Wednesday to clear the way for right-hander Will Harris.
Astros: Better contact a priority
The Astros are coming off their first three-game stretch with 40-plus strikeouts since last June. They had 43 against the Rangers.
• Both teams will be in new territory going into Friday's matchup as neither Peacock nor Straily has faced the respective teams.
• Chris Young became the 20th player in Oakland history to homer in his first game with the A's on Wednesday.
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.