Game 7: Altuve, Marisnick lead charge on offense

The facts: Gregorio Petit’s single to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Joe Sclafani from third base with the winning run and lifted the Astros to a 4-3 victory over Brad Ausmus’ Tigers at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Analysis: Jose Altuve is probably ready for the season. He went 3-for-3 on Thursday, including a double and an RBI single, and he stole a base. He and Jake Marisnick (2-for-2) accounted for half of the Astros’ 10 hits. Marisnick and Altuve are both hitting .417 after one week of spring games.

On the mound, Dan Straily turned up the intensity a notch and worked three innings, allowing three hits and one run.

“We’ve challenged him to throw strike one and pitch ahead,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He struggled with that in the third inning, but for the most part he’s mixing his pitches. When he’s right, he’s getting ahead of hitters and expanding with his secondary pitches. I know he felt better today. He told me that. He was a little more synched up with his delivery and his pitches. That’s progress.”

Pat Neshek, who two days ago thought he might have to wear a protective boot on his right foot, threw a scoreless inning, and Joe Thatcher’s strong spring continued when he retired all four batters he faced, even a few lefties, as Hinch tried to use him in a spot that simulated a regular season situation for the lefty.

Will Harris also threw a scoreless inning to keep his scorecard clean, but Alex White allowed three hits and two runs and walked two batters in 1 2/3 innings.

Player of the game: 2B Jose Altuve (3-for-3, double, RBI).

Notable: Hinch said RHP Asher Wojciechowski will start Sunday’s game against the Nationals. “He’s earned a longer look,” he said. It’s Brett Oberholtzer’s day to pitch, and he’ll work in a Minor League game.

Quotable:

“I can sort of tear up like a proud parent when we work on it for 10 straight days and we get one in the game,” — manager A.J. Hinch on RHP Alex White picking off a runner at second base.

“When I first got called up in 2010, Brandon Lyon called me over and asked where I went to school and I told him [Stanford], and he said, ‘Alright, you’re our new player rep.’ I didn’t even know what that meant. I had to find out later what he was even talking about. I welcomed it with open arms,” — catcher Jason Castro on his role as team representative to the MLBPA.

Up next: Right-hander Scott Feldman, who started on Opening Day for the Astros last year, will make his second start of the spring when the Astros travel to Viera, Fla., to face the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday. Feldman will be followed by Roberto Hernandez, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation who’s scheduled to throw three innings. Luke Gregerson, Josh Fields and Jake Buchanan are also scheduled to throw.

Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) could return to the mound by the weekend. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) will take batting practice on the field Friday and could return to action Saturday. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) has progressed to throwing live bullpens. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) began his throwing program and will begin the day on the DL.

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

Links of the day:

Hinch envisions Valbuena getting plenty of playing time.

Castro had a front-row seat to Will Ferrell’s previous baseball foray.

Straily incorporates tweaked curveball into game plan.

Velasquez starts throwing program.

MLBPA chief Tony Clark addresses Astros.

3 Comments

Brian, what a report, and maybe it will get better as the weeks progress, sounds like Altuve is back in the grove of hitting and always playing outstanding at second base, and the others guys are showing improvement, I think game satiation has its advantages over the workouts because it makes the think more about what they are doing out there on the ball field, by not have the pitchers pitch too many innings gives them more time to rest, and see what’s best pitches are working for them, then they can work on the other pitches and get them down where they become a natural !!!        Ralph

       

Oberholtzer pitching in minor league game is a pretty good sign for him. It sounds like the top four starters are set and the fifth is between Wojo and Straily. White and Deduno battling for long relief with Peacock on DL.

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