Game 17: Relievers on display in rain-shortened loss
The fact: Dan Uggla hit his third home run of the spring in the second inning Monday afternoon and added a two-run triple an inning later to lead the Braves to a 4-0 short-shortened win over the Astros in five innings at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: LHP Brett Oberholtzer and RHP Jerome Williams are progressing nicely as they battle for a spot in the rotation. Oberholtzer is pretty much a lock to get a rotation spot at this point it appears, and Williams should have a spot on the club as either a starter or a reliever.
Both pitchers started a Minor League intrasquad game between the team’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates at 9 a.m. ET Monday. Oberholtzer threw 75 pitches in five innings, and Williams threw 75 pitches in six innings.
“The last thing you want in Spring Training is to get your starters backed up and you’re trying to find innings as you go along and you can’t get an opportunity to get them built up,” manager Bo Porter said. “It’s been great to have these camps games and allow these guys to stay on turn and get their work in and get built up.”
Player of the game: LHP Darin Downs. Starting the game in place of Oberholtzer, Downs worked two innings and gave up a solo homer to Dan Uggla. Regardless, it was a strong outing for the veteran in his quest to win a rotation spot.
What went wrong: LHP Kevin Chapman, who hadn’t allowed a run in his first four spring starts, was hit for three earned runs and five hits in one inning. … The Astros were 2-for-18 with six strikeouts against Braves starter Alex Wood.
Notable: RHP Ross Seaton, who was in Major League camp with the Astros last year, pitched an inning in relief and looked sharp. … IF Jio Mier, the club’s former first-round Draft pick, had a double a single against Williams in the morning intrasquad Minor League game. … CF Dexter Fowler went 1-for-2 with a bunt hit and a strikeout and had a nice diving catch to end the first inning.. … LF Robbie Grossman had the Astros’ only other hit.
Quotable: “Once we talked to the grounds crew and the umpire and myself and Fredi [Gonzalez], we walked out there and it was standing water at third and they had no plans to cover the field. At that juncture, you don’t want to put our players or their players in jeopardy of somebody suffering an injury with the grounds just not being safe,” — Astros manager Bo Porter on decision to call the game after five rain-soaked innings.
Up next: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who hasn’t allowed a run in three spring outings covering nine innings, tries to fortify his spot in the rotation when he starts against the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday. Keuchel is scheduled to throw about five innings.
Injuries: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).
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