Game 6: Stassi’s blast overcomes Cardinals
The facts: Astros catcher Max Stassi blasted a two-run homer off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal in the seventh inning that snapped a tie and sent the Astros to a 7-6 win on Tuesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
Analysis: The Astros’ bats showed some life with 10 hits, including five extra-base hits (four doubles). Luis Valbuena, in the lineup at DH, went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, and Jed Lowrie doubled in each of his first two at-bats. Colby Rasmus had a two-run double in the fourth inning off a left-handed pitcher, which manager A.J. Hinch thought was encouraging.
On the mound, Brett Oberholtzer sailed through two innings before running into some traffic in the third and giving up a pair of runs, but everyone was happy with his day.
“I had to work a little bit, but for the most part I was pretty efficient,” Oberholtzer said. “I felt better today than I did my first start, which is expected of myself. I think the biggest thing I got out of today’s outing is make a better pitch 0-2, 1-2 when I’m ahead put guys away. I threw strikes which is something you always want to do in Spring Training. But like I said, I think I have to do a better job next outing finishing guys off, or at least throwing some balls there to change the thought process for them.”
HInch was asked what Oberholtzer needed to do to lock down the fourth spot in the rotation.
“I think he just needs to continue to pitch,” he said. “There were some good things that happened today, especially early. He ran into a little bit of trouble and gave up some hits. He needs to focus on continuing to throw strike one, work with a good tempo. I trust Obie with the ball every five days. That’s probably all he needs to know at this point.”
Chad Qualls worked a scoreless innings, and Josh Fields and Luke Gregerson each gave up one run, with Fields surrendering a homer to Jacob Wilson. Sam Deduno got the win in relief by allowing three hits and one run while striking out three in three innings.
“I thought Deduno continued to pitch well,” Hinch said. “He had a lot of movement on his pitches, really breezed through his outings. We had a couple of key hits. It’s good to see Lowrie have a couple of key hits. Altuve finished with a positive note with his hit. Colby Rasmus with runners in scoring position against a lefty, that’s a good sign.”
Player of the game: C Max Stassi.
“It’s something I got in the tank,” he said of his power. “I’ve always kind of had it like that, you know? I don’t really try to elevate and hit the ball in the air, that direction. It’s something that it just comes out and, you know, trying to hit the ball hard. That’s it.”
Notable: Jon Singleton has struck out only three times in 14 at-bats so far this spring.
“That’s big-boy territory. It’s hard to rag a guy when he goes dead-center off a guy with a pretty good resume. That’s a big hit,” — manager A.J. Hinch on catcher Max Stassi’s homer off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Up next: The Astros aren’t scheduled to play in Grapefruit League action on Wednesday, but they have scheduled a “B” game against the Braves for 9 a.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Dallas Keuchel will pitch three innings for the Astros. Jonathan Villar, an infielder, is also scheduled to get a look in the outfield during the game. Houston returns to Grapefruit League play Thursday against the Tigers when Dan Straily takes the mound in Kissimmee..
Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) says he’s ready to pitch after being scratched from his outing Monday, but the Astros want him to pitch in the bullpen first. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) is day to day after getting hit by a pitch and could return to action Thursday. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) will throw a live bullpen session on Wednesday. … 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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