Game 26: Norris looks sharp in win over Cards
What happened: Right-hander Bud Norris threw six scoreless innings in his final Grapefruit League start of 2013, and Rick Ankiel pushed home the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning against his former team to lead the Astros to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Bud Norris is ready for Opening Day. Norris fired 84 pitches against the Cardinals and made a few mechanical adjustments as he went along, but his next major test will come when he faces the Rangers on March 31. Norris will throw a few innings in a Minor League game on Tuesday — his last appearance before the start of the season.
“Bud was outstanding,” manager Bo Porter said. “I mentioned it the last start that his secondary stuff really started to look sharp and his slider started to have some really good depth to it. He had some great changeups today. He fell behind in the count and was able to get back in the count with his changeup. Just a tremendous job of attacking the zone, working fast. The pace was great.”
What we learned II: RHP Chia-Jen Lo may have pitched his way onto the club. The Taiwanese reliever worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save to continue his strong showing this spring. Lo has appeared in nine games and allowed seven hits and two runs and struck out eight batters in 8 2/3 innings (2.08 ERA).
“Lo’s done a great job,” Porter said. “It’s an explosive fastball. He has command of three pitches he can throw any time in the count and a fastball that will get back on you.”
What else: 2B Jose Altuve went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored to up his spring average to .370. … Chris Carter saw time at DH and went 2-for-4 with an RBI single. … RHP Jose Veras and LHP Xavier Cedeno both made their returns from the World Baseball Classic. Veras allowed one hit and two runs in two-thirds of an inning, and Cedeno recorded one out. … RHP Jose Valdez threw a scoreless inning to lower his spring ERA to 1.93. … The Astros didn’t commit an error for the second game in a row. … LHP Erik Bedard threw 70 pitches in four innings in a Minor League game against Atlanta.
What went wrong: Veras was rusty in his first Grapefruit League action since March 1, but that’s no cause for alarm. CF Justin Maxwell (0-for-4), 1B Brandon Laird (0-for-4) and 3B Matt Dominguez (0-for-3) combined to go 0-for-11 as the Astros’ red-hot offense was cooled off by the Cardinals.
What they said: “You always think you do, but that’s their decision. I’ll just wait until they tell me and go from there.” — LHP Erik Bedard when asked if he thought he’d done enough to make the team.
What’s next: RHP Philip Humber, who earlier this week learned he had secured a spot as the No. 3 starter in the Astros rotation, will start for the Astros when they make their first trip to Disney to face the Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. Humber will make his Astros regular-season debut April 3 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park.
Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (back) is day-to-day. … RHP Edgar Gonzalez (leg contusion) is day-to-day.
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