Game 13: Lyles, Rowland-Smith take their turns
The Astros lost, 7-2, to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon in Port St. Lucie, where Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jordan Lyles each pitched three innings in their latest audition to win the fifth starter’s job. Both had mixed results.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: Jordan Lyles pitched three innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs. Lyles was told to work on some of his breaking pitches during one of his innings, so that has to play into the results. Those are the things people have to remember during Spring Training. It’s a time for trial and error.
Lyles looked strong and poised and made some hitters look silly, striking out Jason Bay in the first inning specifically. Three of the hits he did give up weren’t hit hard. Two of them went over the head of the second baseman, and the third was a blooper that dropped in for two RBIs.
Rowland-Smith walked the lead-off hitter in all three innings he pitched, but all things considered didn’t pitch too poorly. Walking the lead-off hitter isn’t going to win him any points with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and manager Brad Mills.
Angel Sanchez went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .250, J.D. Martinez and Matt Downs both hit home runs. Downs is hitting .278 with two homers and four RBIs, which are both tied for the team lead through 13 Grapefruit League games.
Anderson Hernandez went 1-for-3 and is hitting .571 in limited action. He was slowed early in camp because of a back problem.
What went wrong: Fernando Abad, a candidate to be the lefty reliever, allowed two hits and two runs in one inning to raise his ERA to 13.50. Besides Sanchez and the homers hit by Downs and Martinez, the Astros had only two additional hits — Michael Bourn and Hernandez.
Brett Wallace went 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .208 after a quick start at the plate.
What they said: “It seemed like the hitters weren’t seeing the ball real well off of him, especially early. He was trying to work on some off-speed stuff in the third inning, and I think that’s where they get some knocks as well off of him. The hits he did give up weren’t all that solid.” –– manager Brad Mills on pitcher Jordan Lyles.
What’s next: After two days of getting a better look at some of the candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, the Astros will give the ball to left-hander Wandy Rodriguez against the Nationals for a rare Grapefruit League night game at Osceola County Stadium. He’s expected to work about four innings, and be followed by closer Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Mark Melancon, Jose Valdez and Wesley Wright.
Injury update: Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was scratched from the lineup in Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers with back spasms, got treatment on the back Wednesday in Kissimmee and is expected to return to the lineup Thursday night. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who had his outing Monday against Washington cut short with a mild hamstring strain, threw off the mound Tuesday without complications. He’s expected to make his next start.
And now for the day in pictures:
Above: Infielder Jiovanni Mier, the team’s first-round draft choice last year, chills in the dugout at Digital Domain Park prior to team stretch on Wednesday.
Above: Astros players begin to stretch on the field at Digital Domain Field on Wednesday.
Above: Players’ gloves lined up on the dugout railing.
Above: Mets manager Terry Collins — former manager of the Astros — catches up with current Astros manager Brad Mills prior to Wednesday’s game.
Above: Brad Mills watches as J.D. Martinez poses on the field for a picture.
Above: View from the press box at Digital Domain Park, formerly Tradition Field.