Game 9: Teachable moments in loss to Yanks

On a day when the wind was blowing out at Osceola County Stadium, the Astros and Yankees combined for 18 runs and 38 hits. The Yankees did most of the damage, banging 21 hits – including home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Greg Golson – to beat the Astros and drop their Grapefruit League record to 2-7.

Befroe we get to the breakdown, click here for all the notes of the day, including some praise for Jordan Lyles, Michael Bourn talking about his spring base-stealing technique, an update on when some roster cuts might come, Brett Myers dissecting his outing and even a mention of a Hollywood actress who came to see the Astros on Sunday.

What went right: The Astros had 10 extra-base hits, including home runs by Jason Michaels and Carlos Lee, and had a spring-high 17 hits.

“The main thing is that I’m feeling pretty good at the plate, seeing the ball real good and taking good swings and good at-bats,” Lee said. “That’s a good start to be building on. We’ve got three more weeks to go. It felt pretty good to hit one out this early. That means you can only improve from that and expect to put last year away.”

Much of the damage was done by players who likely won’t make the Opening Day roster: Catcher Carlos Corporan and first baseman Brian Dopirak was 2-for-3 , and J.D. Martinez  and Anderson Hernandez were both 2-for-2. Matt Downs continued his good spring, going 2-for-4 with a triple and double.

Jason Bourgeois, playing center field, smoked the ball three times and had one hit to show for it.

“I took my last at-bat yesterday against the Cardinals sand I thought about it and felt good about it,” Bourgeois said. “I had a simple base hit back up the middle, but I really found my rhythm and timing, and it’s starting to come together.”

Brett Myers, mixing in the curveball for the first time this spring, allowed five hits and two runs in three innings and continues to proceed accordingly. Brandon Lyon, who had a rough outing last time out, pitched a scoreless inning, which was a rarity. The only other Astros pitcher to throw a scoreless inning was Fernando Rodriguez.

What went wrong: It was a bad day to be on the mound for the Astros, who gave up 21 hits. Not only was the wind blowing out and the infield was harder than normal because the tarp was on the field during morning rain, but the Yankees were aggressive and continually made solid contact.

Jeff Fulchino, who looked terrific in striking out Derek Jeter in the fifth, later gave up four hits in the inning, including a long home run to Alex Rodriguez. Fulchino, Fernando Abad and Gustavo Chacin each gave up four hits and two runs in one inning of work. Wesley Wright took the loss allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) in his one inning of work.

Jimmy Paredes, who entered the game as a defensive replacement to face his former organization, committed his third error of the year has looked very raw this spring. The Astros acquired him from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.

What they said: “This was definitely a Spring Training game. Not only did you see balls bounce through with the rain and having the tarp on the field, but the grounds crew does the best it can with the rain but the wind dries it out. Balls were going through and it was quite a day to work on our cut-offs and relays and everything else. A lot of teaching things, a lot of learning experiences.” – manager Brad Mills said.

What’s next: Left-hander J.A. Happ makes his second Grapefruit League start for the Astros when the travel to Viera, Fla., to face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Monday. Bud Norris, a starter, will piggyback Happ and throw three innings. Patrick Urckfitz, Jorge De Leon and Jose Valdez are also scheduled to pitch.

Injury update: Not much new to report. Jason Michaels’ sore arm doesn’t seem to be bothering him at the plate and he could be in the outfield on Tuesday, and Wilton Lopez was sent home because he was sick.

Now to the pictures:


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Above: Astros players, coaches and staff pose for a picture Sunday morning. The man without a uniform in the middle is owner Drayton McLane, whose grandkids threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the Yankees.

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Above: Astros manager Brad Mills and owner Drayton McLane pose for a picture.

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Above: Some Astros pitchers and catchers stand on the mounds and talk strategy before throwing/catching their bullpens.

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Above: Third baseman Chris Johnson shows good form while trying to field a grounder.

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Above: Tony De Francesco, the new manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hits some ground balls during drills on Sunday morning.

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