Game 1: Astros go long against the Phillies
The fact: The Astros got solo homers from Luis Valbuena, Robbie Grossman and Marwin Gonzalez, and Colin McHugh, Mark Appel and Asher Wojciechowski each threw two innings to lead the Astros to a 6-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
Analysis: Manager A.J. Hinch said he’s going to ease most of his starters into spring action, so that meant Grossman and Gonzalez — players competing for backup spots — started and took advantage, with Grossman going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Appel and Wojciechowski, two prospects who missed all of last spring with injuries, each made their Grapefruit League debuts and pitched well. Wojciechowski gave up one hit in two scoreless innings.
Player of the game: Grossman (2-for-3, one run, two RBIs).
Noteable: The Astros played their first game with the between-innings pace-of-game clock in the outfield. Manager A.J. Hinch went on the field a couple of times to talk to the umpires about the clock, which is reset at 2:25 after the end of each inning with the goal of starting the next inning before time expires.
“It probably is new to look at more than it affects the pace of play. … For the most part, it became pretty common for 25-30 seconds left, catcher throws down and they throw the ball around,” Hinch said.
Quotable: “I thought overall we played a pretty good game, you know? Getting guys up and running, first game action, is always different. These guys haven’t played live in a long time, so I thought we put together a few good at-bats, I thought we handled the ball pretty well and we got the outs when we needed them,” — Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Up next: Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who’s a favorite for the No. 4 spot in the pitching rotation, gets on the mound for the first time this spring when the Astros travel to Jupiter, Fla., to face the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday. Most of the Astros veteran pitchers won’t make the long trip down the Florida Turnpike.
Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) is throwing routinely in the bullpen with the target of facing live hitters in the March 10-12 window. … C Hank Conger (sore left wrist) will get his first game action Saturday. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound..
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