Game 22: Happ battles, Cosart dazzles

It was a rough day at the ballparks (plural) on Sunday for the Astros, whose split squad was beaten, 11-1, by the Braves in Lake Buena Vista (boxscore) and 9-7 in 10 innings by the Pirates in Kissimmee (boxscore).

I chose to stay in Kissimmee, mostly for the chance to see top prospect Jarred Cosart make a Grapefruit League appearance and I’m glad I did. More on that later.

Here’s the link to the notebook, which includes Brian Bixler’s thoughts on playing the outfield and Brian Bogusevic talking about his struggles. Check back soon for reaction from Cosart about his performance.

Here’s the breakdown of the loss to the Pirates:

What went right: Jarred Cosart, the team’s top pitching prospect, pitched in his first Major League Grapefruit League game and gave up seven hits and four runs and struck out five batters in 3 1/3 innings. I put this under the “What went right” category because he was electrifying at times, pitching at 96, 97-mph and hitting 98-mph. He struck out the side in his first inning of work and had a 1-2-3 inning in his third inning. The two other innings were messy, but Cosart is here to learn and improve.

J.A. Happ’s line of five innings and nine hits and three runs wasn’t terrific, but he made some big pitches at key times and limited the damage. It didn’t hurt the Astros turned a pair of double plays behind him, either. When Cosart couldn’t finish the ninth because of his pitch count, Fernando Abad came in and got the final two outs.

At the plate, J.B. Shuck went 1-for-4 with a three-run triple in the seventh inning that tied the game at 6. Jed Lowrie hit his second homer of the spring, and both have been from the left side of the plate, which is huge. Brian Bogusevic went 2-for-3 with two walks and appears to be having better at-bats. Catcher Chris Snyder hit his third homer of the spring, off fellow University of Houston product Brad Lincoln.

Left-fielder J.D. Martinez threw out a runner at first base in the first inning after a running catch for a nice double play. The Astros didn’t make an error…officially.

What went wrong: Astros pitchers gave up 20 hits, including 18 singles. Happ allowed nine hits, Cosart seven and Enerio Del Rosario four hits in the 10th inning in his only inning of work. Del Rosario was having a pretty good spring prior to that outing. J.D. Martinez and Carlos Lee each went 0-for-3.

Minor League infielder Ben Orloff allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the ninth with Cosart on the mound when he lost a popup in the sun and couldn’t catch it, allowing a runner to scamper home from third. Orloff threw to second to get a force out, which is why he wasn’t charged with an error.

Happ was inconsistent, working in and out of trouble in all five of his innings. He loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth and allowed only one run, which was a good result at the time.

What they said: “It was a good experience with ups and downs. I did some good and some bad, and it’s part of the game and the learning curve, I guess. I was very excited and had a lot of adrenaline and tried to learn some stuff while I was there.” — Astros pitching prospect Jarred Cosart on his first Grapefruit League outing Sunday.

What’s next: Center fielder Jordan Schafer, who’s been out of action since March 18 with a sprained left wrist suffered while making a diving catch, is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday when the Astros face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT in Viera, Fla. Jordan Lyles, a candidate for the fifth starter spot, will start the game for the Astros.

Injury update: RHP Wilton Lopez, who hadn’t pitched since March 9 because of forearm tightness, returned to the mound and worked a 1-2-3 inning against the Braves with two strikeouts. … CF Jordan Schafer, who’s been out of action since March 18 with a sprained left wrist suffered while making a diving catch, is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday when the Astros face the Nationals. … OF Jack Cust (elbow) was again limited to pinch-hit duties Sunday and drew a walk against the Pirates. … Bud Norris (triceps tightness) threw 30-40 fastball in the bullpen Sunday in an effort to get ready for his next start. … LHP Sergio Escalona (ulnar collateral ligament) will miss the entire season and will under Tommy John surgery next week.

Here are the photos:

Astros Minor Leagues hang out in the outfield, including Jarred Cosart (28) and my man Alberto Arias (far right).

Livan Hernandez is always keeping it loose.

Brett Myers still wants to hit for some reason.

Jordan Schafer takes BP a week removed from spraining his hand.

Clint Barmes made his return to Kissimmee and played a hard 10 innings.

Mike Barnett gives Jordan Schafer a few pointers.

1 Comment

I see little to be positive about J. A. “the walking man” Happ. Back to his old walk, walk, walk, home run. I don’t see what you see Brian. The guy has had MORE than enough time in the bigs to figure it out. I’m tired O watching him get lit up every time he takes the ball. I was VERY impressed with Cozart. The kid can pitch. PERIOD.

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