Game 3: Astros early performances impressive

The facts: The Yankees exploded for eight runs in the final two innings, including a six-run ninth, to beat the Astros, 9-4, on Saturday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Analysis: The six runs the Yankees scored in the ninth inning came against two pitchers who haven’t even pitched at Triple-A yet — Jordan Jankowski and Kent Emanuel, who came over from Minor League camp. In other words, the outburst had little to do with the way manager A.J. Hinch viewed the day.

The Astros trotted out a starting lineup with most of their regulars, including shortstop Jed Lowrie, second baseman Jose Altuve and catcher Hank Conger for the first time, and bashed out six hits and three runs in the first inning, including a two-run double by Chris Carter. Jason Castro, starting at designated hitter, wound up having two hits — the only player to have multiple hits on a day the Astros had 12 hits.

“That was a really good first inning,” Hinch said. “We had seven out of nine quality plate appearances put together a good run there. That was good see. Those guys came out and gave up good at-bats.”

The pitching early in the game was terrific. Dallas Keuchel threw scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walks, and Luke Gregerson, Chad Qualls and Josh Fields were flawless in their first mound appearances of the spring. In fact, Fields struck out all three batters he faced. Tony Sipp gave up two hits, including a homer in the sixth.

“I thought everybody, especially early in the game, threw really well,” Hinch said. “Dallas was sharp. Gregerson looked fine. Tony had a little longer inning, but his stuff looked fine. He got nibbled a little bit. Fields came out blazing. It’s a good start to that game.”

As for the struggles Jankowski and Emanuel? It’s all part of the learning experience.

“They’re learning lessons,” Hinch said. “Going into the game, we weren’t planning on using Emanuel, but the way the game unfolded we didn’t want to run Jankowski out there too long. [There were] a couple of screwy plays that didn’t go our way, and sometimes these games at the end in spring can get a little crazy. You tell them to keep their head up. Jankowski will get the ball here a couple of more days and we’ll probably see Emanuel back over here in a week or two. Days like that happen. You wish we could have closed it out to reward the early start to the game, but they put up a big number at the end.”

Player of the game: RHP Josh Fields (three strikeouts in one scoreless inning).

Notable: Astros OF prospect Preston Tucker left the game after being hit by a pitch on the hand. X-rays were negative, and he’s listed as day to day with a contusion.

Quotable:

“I blacked out and I ended up on third,” — Astros SS Jed Lowrie on his triple.

“I didn’t really have the best focus today and that come with time, so I think I hearing some of the popcorn vendors sell some popcorn and stuff like that,” — Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel on his outing.

Up next: The Astros will have a split-squad Sunday, with one game at home at Osceola County Stadium against the Braves and another against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he’ll travel to Lakeland to watch right-hander Dan Straily pitch in his Houston debut, and bench coach Trey Hillman will stay back in Kissimmee and watch Scott Feldman pitch.

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. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

Astros like Conger’s “framing” abilities.

Hinch has several lead-off options.

Lowrie, Altuve get back in rhythm quickly.

Hinch making most of his second managerial opportunity.

Tweet of the day:

1 Comment

Brian, that’s the way it goes sometime, when you have guys that have not played that much in the league, they are not up to the quality of player the club is looking for, but maybe in the days ahead they will get to that point, or they will be traded, sounds good that the fist string is hitting the ball, it just the last pitchers didn’t have the stuff at this time  !!!      Ralph

       

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