TORONTO -- Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler entered Tuesday's contest against the Blue Jays as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a 5-2 loss after missing the previous four games with a stomach virus.
Fowler hit a grounder back to reliever Brett Cecil and reached on a fielder's choice after the pitcher went home with the ball and nailed L.J. Hoes, who attempted to score from third, at the plate. The play ended up being challenged and quickly confirmed by the umpires.
The 28-year-old Fowler, who intends to make his return to the starting lineup Wednesday, did some running, hit in the cages and took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since getting sick. He was also able to eat his first solid meal.
"Today's the first day I feel like I have some strength to do anything," Fowler said.
Prior to the game, manager Bo Porter said that although Fowler was feeling better, he didn't want to rush his center fielder back into the starting lineup. But during the contest, Porter said he had conversations with Fowler and felt comfortable putting him into the game as a replacement.
"We'll let him go through a full day of work and make sure everything goes well and that he's OK," Porter said before the game. "We look forward to getting him back."
Fowler, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the Rockies, is hitting .500 with a homer, triple and two doubles over four games.
With Fowler out, Porter shuffles lineup
TORONTO -- Manager Bo Porter shuffled his lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Blue Jays, starting at the top.
Porter, who inserted outfielder Robbie Grossman into the leadoff spot, said he has had a difficult time setting his lineup since center fielder Dexter Fowler, who has missed five consecutive games, went down with a stomach virus.
"It causes a ripple throughout the whole lineup," Porter said.
Porter said the decision to put Grossman in the leadoff spot, and bump Jose Altuve up to the two-hole, was done so he could slot Jesus Guzman in as the club's No. 3 hitter. Guzman hadn't hit higher than fourth this season before Tuesday.
"It was more important to get Guzman into the three-hole more than anything else," Porter explained. "He is swinging the bat well."
Guzman entered Tuesday's game hitting .300 with two homers and an .895 OPS.
Grossman, meanwhile, had made all 29 of his plate appearances out of the No. 2 spot in the order prior to Tuesday's contest. The 24-year-old entered the game batting just .077, but Porter expects him to turn things around in short order.
"I think he can be a little bit more aggressive," Porter said. "But Robbie is going to be fine ... we have all the confidence in the world in him. We believe that this little funk that he's in, he's going to come out of it and be a good player for us."
Zeid called up after Albers placed on paternity leave
TORONTO -- Right-hander Josh Zeid was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City for Tuesday's series opener against the Blue Jays after reliever Matt Albers was placed on paternity leave.
The Astros didn't waste any time getting Zeid into a game. The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out one in two-thirds of an inning. He also picked Jose Bautista off second base.
Zeid, who has made one appearance with the RedHawks this season, understands that his stay with the Astros is likely to be short, but he's eager to make the most of it.
"It's always nice, especially being so close to Spring Training because I feel really comfortable with the group of guys that are here already," Zeid said. "I know it could be a temporary thing, so I'm not getting my hopes up too large, but I'm really excited for the opportunity.
"I'm hoping to get in and show the front office and coaching staff that I can be successful at this level."
Zeid got his first taste of the big leagues in 2013, making 25 appearances with the Astros and pitching to a 3.90 ERA while converting six holds.
"Every time you go out there, it's your job on the line," Zeid explained. "Whether you are a 10-year veteran or have a couple months under your belt, you have the same plan when you go out there.
"If you throw strikes and get ahead of hitters you are going to be successful, just like at any level. Strike one is the best pitch in baseball. You have to be able to strike guys out, that's certainly important. Hitters are hitters, they get themselves out seven times out of 10, eight times out of 10, so you have to put yourself in the best position to get them out and get ahead."
Zeid said some mechanical adjustments he made during Spring Training allowed him to throw the ball better, as he struck out 12 batters over 8 2/3 innings, and it certainly caught the attention of the Astros' coaching staff.
Manager Bo Porter said Zeid was in the mix to make the team out of camp, but was caught up in a numbers game when the Astros elected to carry seven relievers, opposed to eight. Porter said it was a tough decision leaving Zeid behind.
"At the back end of Spring Training, he threw the ball really well," Porter said. "It was good to be able to send a guy with Major League experience to Triple-A, knowing that you need more than 25 [players] anyway, and at some point he was going to be with us."
Albers, meanwhile, will take the full three days of paternity leave that is allowed under Major League rules, said Porter.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.