Game 10: Relief pitchers shut down Braves
The facts: Astros starter Collin McHugh gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings as the Braves held off the Astros, 6-5, on Saturday night at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (boxscore)
Analysis: Take away McHugh’s performance and this was a good night for the Astros. The rest of the pitching staff combined to hold the Braves to one hit — a solo homer off Tony Sipp — over the final 5 2/3 innings, with James Hoyt (two-thirds of an inning), Luke Gregerson (one inning), Chad Qualls (one inning), Michael Feliz (one inning) and Kevin Chapman (one inning) working efficiently.
“I thought Kevin Chapman was fantastic coming in and taking some things he was working on with [pitching coach Brent Strom] in the bullpen into the game,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Gregerson looked good, Qualls looked really sharp. Tony Sipp gave up the solo homer, but was fine. Michael Feliz was bringing heat tonight. He’s got a good arm. For a young kid who hasn’t got to pitch a ton this spring, it’s good to see him let it loose.”
McHugh also hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt and allowed six hits in his outing. He said he’s still trying to get the feel for his curveball.
“We did a couple of good things, but overall obviously not super pleased with the way it turned out,” McHugh said. “It’s Spring Training so people are going to say, ‘You’re here to work on things, you’re here to get better or ready for the season to start,’ which is true. Every time I get on the mound, I’m ready to fight and I’m ready to battle. Nobody likes results like this today.”
Said Hinch:”He pitched in a lot of duress tonight, which was a little taxing for him. He had a tough time getting into counts, had a tough time putting hitters away, so he worked through a little bit. As I told him when I took him out of the game, it was a volume day when he got his pitches up past 60 and pitched in duress. That’s all you can take away from this one.”
Offensively, the Astros had 11 hits, with Robbie Grossman (2-for-3) staying hot. Nine other players had one hit, including a triple by Jonathan Villar and homers by Colby Rasmus — his first of the spring — and Minor League Player of the Year Brett Phillips.
Player of the game: RHP Michael Feliz struck out two of the three batters he faced in relief.
Notable: IF Jonathan Villar, who started at third base, left the game after he was hit above the right knee with a pitch, but Hinch said he was fine.
“I’m floating on a cloud right now. It was a great feeling, for sure,” Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year Brett Phillips on his ninth-inning homer Saturday.
“I kind of got singled to death out there, which sometimes is worse because it’s a carousel on the bases,” — Collin McHugh on his outing against the Braves
Up next: Asher Wojciechowski, who’s competing for the final spot in the rotation, makes his first start of the Grapefruit League season when the Astros face the Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Wojciechowski, who missed all of spring camp last year with a strained lat and missed a month later in the season with a strained forearm flexor, is finally healthy. He appeared in 15 games (14 starts) at Oklahoma City and was 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA, including 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA in his final six starts.
Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) will start Monday’s split-squad game in Viera against the Nationals. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw his second live bullpen session Saturday. … 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:
— Story and video: Lowrie looking forward to being part of Astros’ bright future.
Tweet of the day