Day 36: Rodriguez finds his footing
The Astros tied the Rays 4-4 in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon are now 12-10-1 with five Grapefruit League games remaining. Let’s get on with the breakdown:
The good: After giving up three runs, two walks and three hits in the first inning at Osceola County Stadium, Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez settled down to retire 11 of the final 13 batters he faced in his final Grapefruit League start of the spring.
Rodriguez credited his turnaround to this footwork. He said his plant foot (right foot) was pointing towards the first-base dugout and hindering his delivery. Once he started pointing his foot towards the plate, he got on track.
“I didn’t feel comfortable,” Rodriguez said. “I could feel it in my pitches and thought about [his footwork]. The next three innings, I put my front leg [pointing forward] and was throwing good. I felt comfortable.”
Rodriguez allowed five hits, three runs, three walks and struck out four batters in his 80-pitch outing. He said he was scheduled to 100 pitches, but was cut down to 80 because he’s going to pitch on three days of rest Wednesday in a Minor League game.
Rodriguez, who will likely throw the second game of the regular season, is flying to Houston on Wednesday night to be with his wife, who is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child on Thursday. Rodriguez went 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA in five spring starts.
The good pitching continued after Rodriguez left the game. Matt Lindstrom pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning and has allowed four hits and no runs in 7 2/3 innings. Jeff Fulchino allowed two hits in two scoreless innings to improve his ERA to 2.25 in eight innings. And Tim Byrdak threw a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 9.00. Chris Sampson pitched a scoreless inning in his fifth consecutive scoreless outing of the spring and has a 2.79 ERA.
The bad: Other than Wandy’s rough first inning, there’s not much bad that can be pulled from this game. The Rays scored another run in the 10th off Minor League pitcher Matt Ginter, but Houston played error-free ball and got some terrific pitching.
The offensive struggled against Rays Opening Day starter James Shields, who took a shutout into the sixth inning before Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz hit back-to-back home runs.
What they said: “The first inning, you never want to have the problems, and he’s had a couple of issues in the first inning. But he’s come back and thrown the ball extremely well and made that adjustment. They’ve been working on some things, and hopefully the adjustment will come out to be exactly what he needs to be.” – Astros manager Brad Mills on Rodriguez.
What’s next: Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who’s coming off a strong outing that helped his chances of winning the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation, will make his fifth start of the spring when the Astros face the Florida Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Paulino held the Pirates to one run and seven hits and struck out six in five innings Tuesday. Casey Daigle and Gary Majewski are also scheduled to pitch.
- CF Michael Bourn (strained oblique) returned to Grapefruit League play Saturday after missing a week and went 1-for-3 with three put-outs in center field against Tampa Bay.
- RHP Roy Oswalt (mild left hamstring strain) will be examined Monday in Houston by Dr. Brian McCann. Oswalt left his previous start Friday after feeling some tightness in the hamstring, but he told reporters Saturday it wasn’t a big deal.
- RHP Brett Myers (mild left groin strain) said Saturday he felt good. Bud Norris is scheduled to start in his place in the rotation Tuesday, but Myers is expected to be slotted into the rotation as long as he doesn’t have a setback.
- C J.R. Towles (left hamstring strain) pinch-hit on Saturday and went 0-for-1. He had missed the two previous games, but did get three at-bats in a Minor League game on Friday without any problems.
- SS Tommy Manzella (strained right quadriceps) is doing most baseball drills, but won’t be cleared to get into a game until the Astros are comfortable with his side-to-side agility exercises. Manzella said he’d like to get in a Minor League game soon. He’s hitting .300 (9-for-30) this spring.
- OF Jason Bourgeois (strained left hamstring) hasn’t played in a week but is improving and considered day-to-day.
- RHP Yorman Bazardo (right shoulder discomfort) underwent an MRI on his shoulder Saturday, the results of which are pending. Bazardo hasn’t pitched since feeling discomfort in his shoulder while throwing a pitch March 13.
- RHP Albert Arias (rotator cuff impingement) is likely headed to the disabled list to start the season. He threw off flat ground for seven minutes Friday and said he felt good. He hasn’t pitched in a game since March 9.