Game 24: Astros storm from behind to bolster Wandy
The Astros came from five runs down in the second inning and drilled the Tigers, 14-7, on Tuesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the Astros notebook, which is chock full of Astros news, including an update on center field Jordan Schafer, what Jed Lowrie is doing to swing the bat so well and how Angel Sanchez is trying his hand in the outfield. And there’s much more.
The big news came earlier in the day when the Astros released veteran pitcher Zach Duke and veteran outfielder Jack Cust after both struggled throughout the spring.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: Wandy Rodriguez got off to a very shaky start by giving up five runs in the first two innings and then settled down to finish with four very strong innings against the Tigers. He allowed six hits and five runs and threw a spring-high 90 pitches in six innings, but he got better as the game progressed and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced.
“I told you the other day, I wanted to go longer in the game and I did it today. I tried to throw everything, my breaking ball, my fastball, my change-up,” Rodriguez said. “I used a lot of my change-up today and threw a lot of good ones today.”
Fernando Abad came into the game and got a big out in the seventh, and Brandon Lyon threw a scoreless inning.
The Astros bashed out 13 hits, including four doubles and two home runs, en route to scoring 14 runs. Jason Castro ripped a two-run double in the second inning and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Jed Lowrie hit the ball hard once again, including a two-run single to right field from the left side of the plate.
Brian Bogusevic went 2-for-3 with three runs, two RBIs and two walks and hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning for the last of the Astros’ nine unanswered runs after falling behind 5-0. Jose Altuve went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and also walked a pair of times, which is a very good sign.
Brian Bixler came off the bench and launched a long, three-run homer to left field in the eighth inning, giving him three homers in 25 spring at-bats. The other hits belonged to J.B. Shuck, Angel Sanchez, who’s hitting .412, Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson and Jake Goebbert.
The Astros didn’t commit an error and were 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
What went wrong: Rodriguez struggled early, giving up a Brennan Boesch homer in the first and allowing four more runs in the second, including a inside-the-park homer by Austin Jackson. J.B. Shuck couldn’t corral Jackson’s fly ball at the wall and it rolled back towards the infield.
Mills said he is continued to be concerned with the number of runs the Astros are giving up in first innings this year. He said they’ve given up 25 runs in the first inning in 24 games this spring.
“We need to kind of clean that up a little bit,” he said.
Rhiner Cruz’s run of good pitching ended when he gave up a run, a hit, two walks and hit a batter in two-thirds of an inning in the seventh, raising his spring ERA to 8.53. Wilton Lopez allowed two hits and a run in the ninth.
What they said: “The big thing was to see Wandy come back and pitch like he did. He was frustrated with himself when they were able to jump out in front of us with that five-run lead. He wasn’t happy with himself, but he saw the guys get right back into the game and Wandy was able to continue and pitch very well.” — Astros manager Brad Mills on Tuesday’s outing by left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
What’s next: Lucas Harrell will start against the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday in Kissimmee. Harrell is starting in place of Bud Norris, whose start was pushed back two days because of tightness in his triceps. Harrell is trying to win a bullpen spot as a long reliever, but he could start the year in the rotation at Triple-A.
Injury update: Center fielder Jordan Schafer flew to Atlanta on Tuesday to be examined by the same hand specialist he saw when he broke his wrist in 2009. General manager Jeff Luhnow said he’s likely out of game action until the weekend. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who’s dealing with tightness in his right triceps, said Tuesday he hopes to be 100 percent when he starts Friday against the Braves.
There are no photos today, but check back tomorrow. Until then, stay cool.