Game 14: Rough day on the mound
What happened: The split-squad Braves sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and batted around again in the second inning to jump on the Astros and hold on for a 14-9 win over Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Jordan Lyles is struggling, but he’s healthy and hasn’t yet thrown his full arsenal, so there’s no reason to be concerned yet. The Braves sent nine batters to the plate against Lyles, who threw 33 pitches, and seven of them reached base via a hit, including a hard-hit double by Reed Johnson and a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman.
“Today they just hit balls where guys weren’t, they balls hard, they hit balls soft,” Lyles said. “The credit goes to them. It has nothing to do with me really. When it comes right down to it, I need to make better pitches. But I’m not throwing all my pitches right now. The scoreboard doesn’t look good but that’s not the main focus right now.”
What we learned II: RHP John Ely has some good contol, which is why the Astros traded for him. Ely, whose first two outings were rough, righted the ship and threw three scoreless innings on a day when Astros pitchers struggled to keep the Braves off the board.
“Ely was great,” manager Bo Porter said. “He came in and stabilized the game and gave our offense a chance to go on the run we were on. I kept telling our pitchers, whether middle relief, long relief, you get an opportunity to put up zeroes, we’re going to score runs. We have a bunch of guys in our offense that can change the game with one swing. If we continue to put up zeroes, you never know what will happen.”
Here is Porter talking about starting pitching:
What else: Trailing 14-1, the Astros outscored the Braves 8-0 the rest of the way. … OF Brandon Barnes (.368) went 2-for-2 with his third homer, IF Brandon Laird (.429) went 2-for-2 and 3B Matt Dominguez and IF Jose Martinez each had two hits. OF Trevor Crowe had a three-run triple. … RHP Ross Seaton finished the game by throwing two scoreless innings. … OF Jake Goebbert made a terrific sliding catch on the left field line in the eighth inning, earning a handshake from Porter. … OF Marc Krauss hit his first homer of the spring.
What went wrong: Lyles, RHP Sam Demel and LHP Wesley Wright combined to allow 13 hits and 14 runs in two innings of work. Wright has allowed eight hits and six runs in four innings this spring, and Demel has given up 10 hits and 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings.
“He’s had some tough outings,” Porter said of Demel. “A lot of it is deep counts and getting into hitter’s counts and they’ve been able to put some good swings on the ball. Hopefully next time out he’s able to get some things cleaned up and able to get some hitters using his slider, which is a really good pitch to put hitters away.”
What they said: “From the fourth inning on, we won the ballgame, 7-0. It speaks to the never-say-die attitude of our ballclub and those guys fighting back to make it a ballgame. When you have guys diving at the balls in the type of game that was on the scoreboard, from a staff standpoint we take notice of those things and we realized those guys continued to fight.” –– Astros manager Bo Porter.
What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired by the Astros from the Rockies in a trade in December, gets another chance to try to win a spot in the starting rotation when the Astros travel to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets at 12:10 p.m. CT. White has worked 3 2/3 innings this year and allowed five hits and three runs.
Who’s injured: LHP Erik Bedard (strained glute) threw off the mound Friday and could throw in the bullpen Saturday. … IF Jake Elmore (strained left oblique) is day-to-day. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until April.
Tweet of the day:
Links of the day: Astros notebook as Erik Bedard and Lucas Harrell talking about their injuries, neither of which is major, Geoff Blum talks about his first game as a TV analyst and Ross Seaton is learning plenty in his first big league camp despite a lack of inning.
The day in photos: