Day 37: Paulino makes a strong case
The Astros were shut down by Florida Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco on Sunday. He retired the first 16 batters he faced and wound up allowing one hit and one walk in 7 1/3 masterful innings in the Marlins’ 4-0 win over the Astros in Jupiter, Fla.
Here’s the breakdown:
The good: Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who’s competing for a spot in the rotation, helped his chances Sunday by holding the Marlins to five hits and four runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings in his fourth start of spring. He would have finished the sixth having allowed two runs had shortstop Edwin Maysonet not made a two-out error in the final batter Paulino faced, which led to two unearned runs.
Paulino, 26, went 3-11 with a 6.27 ERA in 23 games (17 starts) for the Astros last season. He stayed in Houston in the offseason to work on his conditioning and opened eyes in camp by posting a 3.78 ERA in 16 2/3 innings covering five starts (six games). He allowed 20 hits, nine walks and struck out 12.
Casey Daigle threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, to lower his ERA to 0.77, and Gary Majewski worked a scoreless inning.
Jason Castro threw out Marlins All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez trying to steal second base with a terrific throw in the first inning.
The bad: The Astros, who were without Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence or Lance Berkman, were pretty much stuffed by a starting pitcher for the second day in a row. Castro was the first Astros’ base runner to reach when he singled with one out in the sixth inning.
Houston managed only three singles, with Matt Kata and Edwin Maysonet getting the other hits. Maysonet, who started at shortstop and moved to left field, made a throwing error in the sixth that led to a pair of unearned runs that went on Paulino’s line.
What they said: “We’re seeing some different things. We had two pretty long trips back to back here at the end and you put those together with some of the injuries we had… We’re just looking for good, solid at-bats right now, seeing a lot of pitches and doing some things. Yeah, there’s some things we want to adjust and make changes on, but at the same time the guys are doing alright, they’re doing OK.” – manager Brad Mills on the offense.
What’s next: With starting pitchers Brett Myers and Roy Oswalt nursing minor injuries and getting pushed back, left-hander Gustavo Chacin will make his first start of the spring Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., a 12:05 p.m. CT. Chacin, a non-roster invitee who’s a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, has allowed six earned runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings this spring. Brandon Lyon will make his fourth appearance in relief, with bullpen contenders Sammy Gervacio and Wilton Lopez also scheduled to pitch.
- 1B Lance Berkman took swings in the batting cage Sunday morning, and Mills said he responded well. No decision has been made about whether Berkman, who had knee surgery two weeks ago, will start the season the disabled list. “That’s always exciting when he starts feeling better, and he was happy about that,” Mills said. “We’re going to see how he feels tomorrow. The first he was back doing all that time in the cage his knee didn’t respond quite so well, so we had to take a day off. The big question tomorrow is going to see how he is. Hopefully, in a day or two we’ll be able to answer that question with a little more certainty.”
- SS Tommy Manzella, who been out for a week with a strained quadriceps, could play in a Minor League game Monday. Mills said Manzella is responding well going through his drills and expects to be able to write his name in the lineup card soon. “Tommy’s a guy that’s going to give 100 percent when he’s only 80 percent, which sometimes isn’t the best,” Mills said. “We need his body to be 100 percent because he’s going to go full-bore, which is not a bad thing.”
- Mills said LHP Wandy Rodriguez will pitch Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves and not in a Minor League game. Rodriguez, whose wife is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child on Thursday, told reporters Saturday he was going to pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday, but Mills said he will appear in a Grapefruit League game instead.
- RHPs Roy Oswalt and Brett Myers, both of whom left their previous starts with injuries, are scheduled to pitch again this spring, Mills said. Myers had a minor left hamstring strain, and Oswalt had a left hamstring strain and will be examined Monday in Houston. “They want to pitch and they’re scheduled to pitch,” Mills said. “Both of them feel very confident they’re going to b able to throw.”
- RHP Yorman Bazardo, who hasn’t pitched since March 13, had an MRI on Saturday, the results of which showed no structural damage. He was scheduled to throw lightly off flat ground on Sunday in Kissimmee.