Game 7: Wandy comes around
The Astros were held scoreless twice on Saturday, losing split-squad games to the Tigers, 5-0, in Kissimmee and, 1-0, to the Cardinals in Jupiter. Not all was lost, however. The Astros had some great pitching performances in both games, but since I was in Kissimmee that will be the focus of today’s rundown:
What went right: Wandy Rodriguez, coming off a shaky outing in his first Grapefruit League start of the season, rebounded to throw three innings Saturday against the Tigers, allowing three hits and two runs. He didn’t throw a ball until two outs in the third inning when he walked Brandon Inge. His first 16 pitches were strikes, striking out Will Rhymes on three pitches to start the game and whiffing both Andy Dirks and Ben Guez on three pitches in the third.
Astros manager Brad Mills was impressed with how Wilton Lopez mowed through the Tigers in an quick 1-2- inning, and how Douglas Arguello threw a scoreless inning.
Offensively, Hunter Pence went 2-for-3 to increase his spring average to .500, and Koby Clemens had a nice at-bat against Justin Verlander and singled over the shortstop in his first at-bat. Carlos Lee and Jonathan Villar had the other hits.
Shortstop Clint Barmes made a nice defensive play when he snagged a line drive out of the air, and Oswaldo Navarro at third and Michael Bourn in center contributed to the fine defense with some good plays.
J.D. Martinez, the Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2010, made his Grapefruit League debut Saturday and went 0-for-3 at designated hitter against Detroit, but he said the quad strain that kept out of action felt better.
What went wrong: Ross Wolf, who had pitched so well in his previous outing, was roughed up for four hits and two runs in two innings in relief, raising his ERA to 4.50. Second baseman Jimmy Paredes, the second baseman acquired in the Lance Berkman trade, committed two errors in one play, fumbling a ground ball and then throwing it into the dugout.
Michael Bourn went 0-for-3 to fall to .200 and Clint Barmes went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. The Astros struck out 11 times, including Barmes, Pence and Lee in order in the sixth.
What they said: “He was mixing his pitches real well. I thought his curveball was exceptional today, and he was really working his fastball down in the zone.” - Astros manager Brad Mills on Wandy Rodriguez.
What’s next: The New York Yankees make their only visit of the spring to Osceola County Stadium at 12:05 p.m. Sunday. Brett Myers, who’s expected to be the Astros’ Opening Day starter, will make his second start of the spring after throwing two scoreless innings Tuesday against the Braves. Also scheduled to pitch for the Astros: Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Fernando Abad, Mark Melancon, Lance Pendleton, Wesley Wright and Aneury Rodriguez.
Injury report: Outfielder J.D. Martinez made his spring debut and went 0-for-3, but he said his strained quad felt fine. … An MRI performed on right-hander Alberto Arias showed now additional structural damage. He has inflammation and will have another week of rest.
Now to the photos:
Above: Clint Barmes, Bill Hall and Hunter Pence chat before workouts Saturday morning.
Above: Brad Mills, a very hands-on manager, hits comebackers to the mound during a drill Saturday morning. Notice the long line of pitchers waiting for their turn.
Above: Manager Brad Mills likes to make the rounds during batting practice and talk to players individually. Here, he spends a few moments with Hunter Pence on Saturday.
Above: Carlos Lee takes a cut during batting practice Saturday morning.
Above: Michael Bourn entertains teammates in the outfield during batting practice.
Above: This is Chan Jong Moon, who signed with the Astros out of Korea as an 18-year-old on September, 2009. He’s a left-handed hitting infielder who hit .215 in 93 games in his professional debut last year in the Gulf Coast League.