Game 6: Final outs prove to be tough for Astros

The big news of the day at Astros camp was Friday morning’s announcement that starting catcher Jason Castro would likely miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, in addition to the medial meniscus tear that was revealed Thursday.

For more information on the Castro injury, click here.

For a look at some of the catchers that could be available via trade, click here.

On the field, the Astros lost the Cardinals, 10-2, at Osceola County Stadium. The Cardinals scored nine of their 10 runs after two outs as Astros pitchers had trouble finishing off innings.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Jason Michaels continued his hot spring by going 2-for-2 in the designated hitter role, raising his average to .500. Michaels isn’t seeing any time in the outfield because right arm is giving him a little bit of discomfort.

Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez, J.R. Towles and Carlos Corporan each had a hit, and Matt Downs homered to left field in the second inning.

On the mound, Fernando Abad breezed through a scoreless inning with one strikeout, and Patrick Urckfitz and Casey Fien each threw a scoreless inning. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start and didn’t too poorly. He retired five of the first six batters he faced before a two-out walk in second allowed the Cardinals to score three times.

“Finding that third out was elusive,” manager Brad Mills said. “I thought the ball came out of Ryan Rowland-Smith’s hand well. He deserved a little bit better fate than what happened, simply because he was throwing the ball so well.”

What went wrong: The Astros committed three errors, including two in the sixth inning when Mark Melancon was on the mound. Angel Sanchez made a fielding error, and catcher Carlos Corporan had a throwing error in the inning, helping the Cardinals score two unearned runs.

“He did a great job of getting those ground balls,” Mills said of Melancon. “You want your pitcher to get those ground balls. His breaking ball was much more consistent than his last outing, which was sure nice to see. He got some plenty of ground balls that should have finished the innings.”

The Astros were held to eight hits, with Downs’ homer the only extra-base hit in the bunch.

“You saw some real good at-bats and some questionable,” Mills said. “We saw some balls hit hard and some early-count outs, and you don’t want to see those as much. That’s going to happen, too, don’t get me wrong. I realize that’s going to happen, but you’d like to see more consistency.”

Closer Brandon Lyon allowed four hits and two runs in one inning, and Lance Pendleton’s bid for a roster spot wasn’t helped by allowing two hits, a walk and one run in one inning. Jeff Fulchino gave up a pair of unearned runs.

What they said: “Obviously, you want the results and you want to feel good. I’m not going to lie about that. The results weren’t there for me today, but I felt strong and was on top of the ball and my mechanics felt good. I was throwing all my pitches around the zone. I was happy with that and I just missed a few pitches.” - Astros pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith.

What’s next: Wandy Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and six runs in his first spring outing, tries to right the ship when he faces the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in a split squad game at Osceola County Stadium. He had a poor spring a year ago and needs a good showing. Jordan Lyles, the team’s top prospect, makes his first start of the spring in the other split-squad game against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Injury update: Catcher Jason Castro underwent major surgery on his right knee Friday and is likely out for the season. … Outfielder J.D. Martinez is nursing a sore quadriceps and is awaiting his first Grapefruit League action of the spring. … Jason Michaels has been limited to designated hitting duties with some arm discomfort.

And, finally, here are some pictures from Friday:

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Above: Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg catches a portion of J.A. Happ’s bullpen session.

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Above: Jeff Bagwell talks with Brett Myers before Bagwell left camp and returned home.

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Above: Bud Norris throws on the practice mounds Friday, with Arnsberg behind him.

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Above: A 1980s Astros reunion? That’s Cesar Cedeno in between Enos Cabell and Jose Cruz. Sorry, I couldn’t get a good shot of Cedeno’s face, but trust me. That’s him.

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Above: Angel Sanchez practices putting down a bunt.

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