Game 20: Harrell makes his case for rotation spot

The fact: Right fielder Bobby Abreu went 3-for-4, including a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning, to lead the split-squad Phillies to a 6-3 win over the Astros on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: Don’t count out RHP Lucas Harrell for a spot in the starting rotation. Harrell, who coughed up 12 hits and nine earned runs in his previous start on Saturday, pitched well Thursday by allowing six hits and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings. He wasn’t efficient, though, needing 91 pitches.

Harrell, who’s among four battling for the final two spots in the Houston rotation, has allowed one earned run in four of his five starts this spring.

“Some of the good things I’ve been taking out of my outings are weak contact,” he said. “I felt like I got some weak contact today, some balls on the ground, and that’s mainly what I’m looking for.”

Player of the game: CF Dexter Fowler went 2-for-2 with a walk, a double and a run scored at the top of the lineup to raise his spring average to .250.

What went wrong: LHP Kevin Chapman, who took the loss, came into a jam in the fifth and got a pair of strikeouts before allowing a pair of runs (one earned) in the sixth. … LHP Darin Downs gave up five hits and three earned runs in two innings of work, raising his spring ERA to 6.75. … Marwin Gonzalez played a few innings in CF as promised and sailed a throw to the plate in the sixth inning well over the catcher’s head.

“I think it’s a matter of getting to know the position and getting his arm stretched out,” manager Bo Porter said. “Obviously, that’s a different throw than any of the throws he’s had to make from short, second or third. Again, we’re going to put him out there. He gives us flexibility. I thought he made a really good play on a ball doing to left-center. He’s going to add some versatility to our ballclub.”

Read more about how Gonzalez could shape the Astros roster here.

Notable: Harrell picked off Reid Brignac at second base in the third inning. … C Carlos Corporan was charged with a passed ball in the fifth inning. … RHP Josh Fields is having a strong spring. He struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning. … SS Jonathan Villar went 2-for-4, and C Jason Castro was 2-for-3.

Quotable: “It takes three pitches to strike somebody out and one pitch to have them hit a ground ball,” — Astros manager Bo Porter when asked about Harrell not having any strikeouts.

Up next: RHP Scott Feldman, who will start for the Astros on Opening Day against the Yankees on April 1, will make his second-to-last start of the spring when the Astros face the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday at Osceola County Stadium. He’s scheduled to throw 90 pitches across six or seven innings

Injuries: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Full story and video: Astros cut six prized prospects from camp.

Oberholtzer and Cosart to follow Feldman in rotation

X-rays show no fracture for Correa

Tweets of the day:

2 Comments

I’m not trying to be “funny” here Brian, but I think Lucas is ADHD. He loses his focus soooo quick, and I’m willing to bet money he has never been diagnosed by a doctor.
It’s tough to watch him self distruct on the mound. Brandon Backe was like that too.

I so badly want Lucas to turn things around this season. Hoping he gets it together.

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