Game 18: Bats can’t touch Dickey
Behind a dominant pitching performance from Mets knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey, the Astros lost to the Mets, 8-2, on Thursday afternoon to fall to 9-9. Here is the boxscore.
Now, onto the breakdown:
What went right: Rhiner Cruz, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, had easily his best outing of the spring, and it came against his old team. He struck out a batter to end the fourth and strand runners at second and third, and then pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning and finished with two strikeouts.
Closer Brett Myers continues to pitch extremely well. He pounded the strike zone in his one inning of work, pitching around an error, and was at 90-92 mph on the radar gun. “He was spotting his fastball and his curveball had good depth,” manager Brad Mills said. “He was able to throw the curveball two different speeds — a hard one and a softer one, and both of them had real good depth. Obviously, he’s starting to get the feel for that because it was the same way last time.”
Henry Sosa also pitched well, allowing one hit and striking out two batters in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Not much to brag about at the plate, though the Astros did scorch some balls in the ninth inning, including a hit by Brad Snyder. Justin Ruggiano came off the bench and had a pair of hits, including a double. The only other hit was a single by Scott Moore, who also made a tremendous defensive play at third base in the eighth.
Matt Downs hit a rocket in the ninth inning that would have been extra bases had the left fielder not made an acrobatic catch at the wall.
What went wrong: The Astros didn’t manage a hit against Mets starter R.A. Dickey until Justin Ruggiano’s pinch-hit in the sixth inning. Among those going 0-for-3: J.B. Shuck, Travis Buck, J.D. Martinez, Jimmy Paredes and Jason Castro. When Dickey changes speeds like that, he’s tough to hit.
Wandy Rodriguez battled command problems all game, throwing 80 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits, four runs and walked five batters and said after the game he understands he needs to pitch deeper into games. Rodriguez hasn’t had a good spring, but he did the same thing last year and was pretty good in the regular season.
Sergio Escalona, in only his second appearance of the spring because of an elbow hyper-extension, gave up four hits and four runs (three earned) in one-third of an inning.
The Astros also committed three errors: a fielding error by Paredes at third, a missed catch by Carlos Lee at first on a throw from Paredes that was a little wide and a fielding error by Moore. Ruggiano and Snyder collided in right-center field chasing a ball, but Snyder hauled it in.
What they said: “His concern comes from he wants to be out there throwing to work on things. When his pitch count gets so high early the game, those are stressful innings and I don’t want to kill him out there.” — Astros manager Brad Mills on pulling starter Wandy Rodriguez in the fourth after 80 pitches.
What’s next: Bud Norris starts when the Astros return home to face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Friday. Norris gave up five hits, five runs and four walks in his previous outing Saturday against the Yankees. Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who fouled a ball off his foot Tuesday and hasn’t played since, is scheduled to make his return to the lineup.
Injury update: Center fielder Jordan Schafer (left hand sprain) is day-to-day, but won’t play until Saturday at the earliest. … Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who fouled a ball off his foot Tuesday and hasn’t played since, is scheduled to make his return to the lineup Saturday.
Here are a few pictures from Digital Domain Park: