Game 8: Astros slug three homers, rally to tie Cards
What happened: The Astros came from four runs down, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, to earn their second tie of the spring, 8-8, against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
“Just a great job by the whole group, just coming back and battling, battling, battling and getting into hitter’s counts and putting good swings on the ball,” manager Bo Porter said.
More on Porter in this video:
What we learned: OF George Springer has a hot bat. Literally. Springer, who homered twice earlier in the week, didn’t go deep Friday, but he gave his bat to OF Chris Carter and told him he’d hit a home run. Carter blasted a long blast to left field in the fifth, finally showing the kind of power we’d heard about when he came over from Oakland.
“It feels good to finally square up a ball,” Carter said. “The last few at-bats I’ve been struggling making solid contact. You want to impress early and quick, but you have to stick with what you’re doing.”
What we learned II: Porter is going to have some tough roster decisions to make. IF Brandon Laird is having a terrific spring and slugged his second homer on Friday — one day after hitting a grand slam — and OF Brandon Barnes homered for the second time this spring. Both are battling for the few roster spots, but they’re certainly helping their cause.
“As camp goes along, you want to make it to the end of camp and have tough decisions,” Porter said. “When you come into camp and have competition and one guys runs away with it, you say to yourself, ‘Wow, we must not have too much depth.’ The fact we have great competition for the roster spots going on in camp, lets us know from an organizational standpoint we have a lot of depth.”
What else: RHP Jose Veras, in his final performance before leaving for the World Baseball Classic, had a 1-2-3 fourth inning with two strikeouts. … The Astros bashed out 12 more hitters with a pair of catchers — Rene Garcia and Jason Jaramillo — having two hits apiece. … RHP Bud Norris looked strong, allowing two runs and two hits in three innings, but he had a pair of 1-2-3 innings. … Josh Zeid, Rhiner Cruz and Josh Fields each threw a scoreless, hitless inning.
What went wrong: For the second day in a row, an error opened the door for the opposition. The Cardinals scored two unearned runs in the fifth after a Brett Wallace error, and a Jake Elmore error at shortstop in the sixth led to three unearned runs with Paul Clemens on the mound.
“From a standpoint of it being Spring Training, these are teachable moments and you stress it to the ballplayers that cannot give up extra outs,” Porter said. “When get the ball, handle the ball, take care of the ball. The more men that get on base, the more opportunities they have to score.”
What they said: “I felt a lot better. It’s great to get your legs under you and you go out and compete. I’m still working on some things, just trying to stay back over the rubber and trying to find my delivery and all that. I felt good and I’m excited to keep it going.” — RHP Bud Norris on his second spring outing.
What’s next: LHP Dallas Keuchel gets his first start of the spring when the Astros face the Braves at Osceola County Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday. Keuchel has a relief appearance under his belt, but he’s competing for a spot in the rotation. RHP Philip Humber will throw in the game as well as the Astros try to divvy up starts.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (ankle) continues to ease closer to game action. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until early April.
Links of the day: Astros OF J.D. Martinez admits he put too much pressure on himself last year. Now, he’s trying to retool his swing and win a spot on the club. The Astros notebook has hitting coach John Mallee’s thoughts on the team’s hot start at the plate, Bo Porter talking about roster construction and RHP Paul Clemens’ thoughts on his career.
Tweet of the day:
Regular season will be her in 28 day
— Lucas Harrell (@LucasHarrell34) March 1, 2013
The day in photos: