Game 3: Solid day on mound for starting candidates

What happened: The Astros beat the Braves, 7-4, on Sunday in their first home game of the Grapefruit League season at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: The work LHP Brett Oberholtzer has been doing with his curveball is giving him confidence to be a solid pitch in his repertoire, instead of just a third pitch. He wants to use it as a weapon to left-handers, but his fastball command will also set everything up. He threw two innings in relief Sunday and gave up three hits and one run.

What we learned II: RHP Jarred Cosart’s adjustments are playing off as well. Cosart breezed through two scorless innings against the Braves, and said holding his hands lower prior to his windup has allowed him to get more angle on some of his pitches. It’s a subtle move, but one that could pay huge dividends.

What else: The Astros had nine hits, four of which went for extra bases. RF Marc Krauss and 1B Chris Carter doubled, and 3B Matt Dominguez and 2B Ronald Torreyes had triples. … C Carlos Corporan drove in a run with a hit and a sacrifice fly. … RHP Anthony Bass continues to impress, throwing another scoreless inning. … The Astros drew two walks with the bases loaded in the eighth inning — RF L.J. Hoes and Torreyes. … CF Dexter Fowler had an outfield assist in the fifth by getting Jordan Schafer trying to stretch a double into a triple. … RHP Jerome Williams threw two scoreless innings.

“I was really pleased with the tempo of the game,” manager Bo Porter said. “I felt like guys went out there today and threw strikes and kept the defense on their toes.”

What went wrong: The Astros were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. … RHP Chad Qualls got on the mound for the first time and gave up two hits and three runs in one inning.

What they said: “The other guys think, ‘I’m not going to walk this guy. I’m going to throw him a good fastball and hopefully he’ll hit it to somebody,’ but the little man can hit,” Astros manager Bo Porter on 5-foot-9 infielder Ronald Torreyes.

What’s next: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel makes his first start of the spring on Monday afternoon when the Astros travel to Jupiter, Fla., to face the Miami Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT. Keuchel is battling for a rotation spot, having gone 6-10 with a 5.15 ERA in 31 games (22 starts) last year.

Who’s injured: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (calf strain/biceps tendon surgery recovery), OF Adron Chambers (hamstring strain), RHP Jorge De Leon (quad strain), LHP Raul Valdes (left knee surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Tweet of the day:

The day in photos

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Cesar Izturis and Jose Altuve play catch

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Chris Carter

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Bo Porter

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Justin Upton and Dexter Fowler

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Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Justin Upton

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Jonathan Singleton

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