Game 7: Big inning lifts Astros past Yankees
What happened: Brandon Laird’s grand slam to right-center field in the sixth inning keyed a six-run outburst and propelled the Astros to a 7-6 win over the split-squad Yankees on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
Here’s the video clip of Laird’s grand slam:
What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell has his sinker working. Harrell attacked the strike zone and coasted through three innings against a Yankees team that didn’t have any of its marquee players. Still, Harrell was sharp and threw 32 pitches and then went to the bullpen and threw 20 more to get his work in.
“I was hoping I could go another inning,” he said. “I was hoping to get up to 50 pitches. I told [pitching coach Doug Brocail] before the game my goal is to try to throw around 50 pitches. You try to be efficient but sometimes at Spring Training it works the other way. You want to go ahead and throw the 50 pitches, but you also want to get those pitches in against live batters.”
What we learned II: OF Rick Ankiel is a little locked in right now. Ankiel, who’s having a terrific spring at the plate, led off the fifth inning with a solo homer — his first with the Astros. He is 6-for-9 this spring with 12 total bases.
“I just take it day by day on what pitches we’re seeing,” he said. “I feel like it’s early and [opposing pitchers] are working on their heaters, but later on in camp you’ll start seeing more breaking stuff, cutters, and that type of stuff. It might be more important to get at-bats later on as it is now.”
What else: A hustling double by OF Brandon Barnes drew praise from manager Bo Porter, who said: “He made the guy make a play to get him out. It was a great, aggressive play.” … The Astros had a pair of runners thrown out trying to steal, and Porter later said they missed a couple of signs. … The Astros turned three double plays, with SS Jonathan Villar and 2B Jose Altuve playing well up the middle.
What went wrong: RHP Ross Seaton made a throwing error in the sixth that was costly. He fielded a come-backer to the mound with one out, turned to fire to second and threw the ball away. It was a potential inning-ending double play ball, and the Yankees went on to score five runs in the inning.
“A 1-6-3 double play and the inning’s over,” Porter said. “We don’t execute it, and 32 pitches later the score is 5-1. … It’s the perfect example of how big innings happen and something we still continue to stress to our guys that you have to play the game fundamentally sound.”
What they said: “Everybody wants to be up in a situation like that. He was a guy that couldn’t find the zone and I was looking for a pitch that I could handle, and he left one over the plate and I put a good swing on it.” — IF Brandon Laird on his sixth-inning grand slam.
What’s next: RHP Bud Norris makes his second start of the spring when the Astros play host to the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium on Friday. Norris, who could be the club’s Opening Day starter, threw two innings in his first outing of the season on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch three innings against St. Louis. The game will be broadcast on CSN Houston.
Who’s injured: C Max Stassi underwent surgery Thursday morning in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia. He’s out four-to-six weeks. … RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) threw off the mound Thursday and is near game action.
Links of the day: Had RHP John Ely not been traded to the Astros, he’d be playing in Korea. The Astros notebook has Dave Clark’s thoughts on Chris Carter’s progress in LF, C Jason Castro discussing plate collisions, OF Jimmy Paredes talking about working out with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, and much more.
Tweet of the day:
The day in photos: