Game 5: Pitching rules the day
The facts: The Astros scratched out a run in the sixth inning to back their strong pitching and beat the Blue Jays, 1-0, on Monday afternoon in Dunedin, Fla. (boxscore).
Analysis: Four Astros pitchers combined to shut out the Jays, who had just five hits. Collin McHugh threw three innings and has yet to allow a run in two starts (five innings), and Roberto Hernandez made his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros and tossed two scoreless innings with two walks.
McHugh, who says he usually struggles in the spring, has been sharp.
“My arm feels great,” he said. “I felt the ball was coming out. There’s a radar gun on the scoreboard so I peeked every once and while – I don’t know how accurate it was – but to see if it felt good coming out and to see what that actually translated into. I’ll go back and look tomorrow and watch a little video and see how it came out.”
Asher Wojciechowski came on strong by striking out three batters and allowing two hits in three innings, and Will Harris worked the ninth for the save.
“Great day of pitching today,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Everybody that took the ball, threw strikes and got out of a couple of jams, used all their pitches. I thought Wojo had a really good showing. He had a little extra velocity, had all of his pitches working and really showed well. It was good to see Roberto on the mound for the first time.”
At the plate, Jon Singleton went 2-for-3 with a double to raise his spring average to .500 (5-for-10).
Players of the game: RHP Asher Wojciechowski.
Notable: Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick, didn’t pitch because he reported a mild strain of his right forearm.
“Right out of Santo Domingo to two bullpens to live action. There’s a reason he’s got quite a bit of service time. He knows how to get himself ready,” — manager A.J. Hinch on spring debut of RHP Roberto Hernandez, who showed up at camp less than a week ago following visa issues.
Up next: Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer makes his second start of the spring when the Astros return home to face the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT Tuesday at Osceola County Stadium. Oberholtzer, the leading candidate to win the fourth spot in the rotation, gave up four hits and one unearned run in two innings in his first out of the Grapefruit League on Friday.
Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) was scratched from his outing on Monday. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) is day to day after getting hit by a pitch. … 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/
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