Results tagged ‘ Bud Norris ’
The Astros, coming off of a three-game sweep against the Cubs where they averaged 7.3 runs and had at least 10 hits in each game, will try to keep things going against the Padres tonight in San Diego. Bud Norris (2-4, 3.76 ERA) will be on the mound for the Astros against Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer (1-3, 3.60).
Norris is fifth in the Majors at 9.81 strikeouts per nine innings, but is looking for his first road win of the season (0-3). Stauffer, who got his first win of the season in his 11th start on Saturday, became the fifth Padres pitcher to take 11 starts to get his first win of the season.
The Astros have been generating a lot of hits in their last six road games. In fact, the Cardinals are the only team this season to have at least 10 hits in seven consecutive road games, a mark the Astros can equal tonight.
When it comes to pitching, the Astros have done well against the Padres. Since the start of the 2010 season, Houston has a 2.72 ERA in 99 1/3 innings against San Diego – that’s the third-best ERA against the Padres in that span.
Want more reason to be optimistic about the Astros’ chances? The Padres are 9-20 at home this year, including 4-15 in night home games. They are hitting a Major League-worst .199 at Petco Park.
Here is the Astros’ lineup:
CF Michael Bourn – Has driven in the winning run in each of the last two games and has nine RBIs in his past nine games.
SS Clint Barmes – His .307 batting average against the Padres in his best against any opponent in his career.
RF Hunter Pence – Hitting .436 during his current 13-game hitting streak.
LF Carlos Lee – Hitting .344 with three doubles and four RBIs in his past eight games.
2B Jeff Keppinger – Has reached base in 10 of his 23 plate appearances this season.
1B Brett Wallace – Ranks fourth in the Majors in hitting in the seventh inning or later with a .397 average.
3B Chris Johnson – Has hit safely in five of his last six games.
C J.R. Towles – This is his 24th start, which is his most since a career-high 47 starts in 2008.
RHP Bud Norris – He’s 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA in four road starts.
The Astros blew another late lead Saturday, allowing the Marlins to roar back from three runs down in the seventh and win 7-5. The loss drops the Astros to 1-7, which is only one game better than they’re 0-8 start of a year ago.
The Astros led 4-1 through six innings Saturday and watched the Marlins get Bud Norris for three runs to tie the game, before Fernando Abad allowed a pair of runs in the seventh to give Florida a 6-4 lead. On Friday, Houston had a 1-0 lead through six and a 2-1 lead through seven and couldn’t hang on.
Alas, here are some postgame notes:
- The Astros posted a season-high five runs on a season-high 11 hits Saturday night.
- RHP Bud Norris got the first extra-base hit, run scored and RBI by an Astros pitcher this season, coming in the third inning
- C J.R. Towles picked up another hit and has now hit safely in all four of his starts this season.
- 2B Bill Hall went 1-for-4 and has now hit safely in four straight games since collecting a .286 average in that span. In his firstfour games of the season, Hall went 1-for-15.
- By doubling in the eighth inning, LF Carlos Lee became the first Astros player to record a single, double, triple and home run this season.
- Jason Bourgeois collected the Astros’ first pinch-hit this season with an infield single in the ninth. Prior to his at-bat, Astros pinch-hitters had combined to go 0-for-10.
- 1B Brett Wallace has recorded RBIs in five consecutive games and in five of his last six games.
- SS Angel Sanchez snapped a personal streak of 19 games and 69 at-bats between extra-base hits before doubling in the first inning. His previous extra-base hit came on Sept. 11, 2010 against the Dodgers.
Besides a strong effort from Brett Myers in the April 1 season opener at Philadelphia, the first time through the rotation was a rough one for the rest of the Astros starters: Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Nelson Figueroa.
Myers has started two of the Astros’ six games and is 0-0 with a 2.03 ERA, allowing nine hits and three earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. He’s given the Astros their only two quality starts and appears to be picking up where he left off last year, when he was one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball and went at least six innings in all but one start.
The Astros’ 8.22 ERA by their starters ranks last in baseball entering Friday, well behind Detroit’s 7.75 ERA. The good news is it can only get better, and I’d be surprised if a couple of those guys didn’t come back with good outings this week. And that brings us to today’s poll question. Which starter, other than Myers, do you think is most likely to have a better season?
With the Astros set to play 10 consecutive games at home starting tonight against the Marlins at Minute Maid Park, it will be an important second time through the rotation for Rodriguez, Norris, Happ and Figueroa. The quartet went a combined 0-4 with a 12.98 ERA in their first four starts combined, with only Figueroa pitching beyond the fourth inning. And that was because the bullpen so taxed that manager Brad Mills had to get as much out of him as he could.
The good news is Rodriguez, Norris and Happ — who will face the Marlins this weekend — have pitched better at Minute Maid Park:
- Rodriguez is 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA in six career starts vs. Marlins and is 38-26 in his career at Minute Maid.
- Norris is 5-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 home starts last year.
- Happ is 4-1 with a 3.22 ERA in eight career starts at Minute Maid.
The message here is don’t panic. It’s one time through the rotation against a pair of teams favored to win their divisions. Not that the Astros don’t want to one day be able to beat good teams — they did sweep the Phillies last year — but there is plenty of baseball left. The Marlins, Cubs and Padres are coming to town, and if the Astros manage a, say, 6-4 homestand, they’re 7-9 and in much better shape than they were last year at that time.
The Tampa Bay Rays were able to take better advantage of the wind blowing out to right field at Osceola County Stadium on Thursday afternoon than the Astros, who dropped an 11-3 decision to the Rays, who hit a pair of home runs.
The big news of the day were the roster moves made by the Astros, which included sending Tommy Manzella and Brian Bogusevic to Minor League camp. Also, they re-signed former Astros pitcher Fernando Nieve to a Minor League contract.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: Bud Norris got off to a quick start, sending down six batters in a row after allowing the first two hitters to reach. The Rays started getting better swings in the third and fourth and pushed across four runs, but Norris was able to throw 79 pitches and looks strong.
“The whole point here, even winding down, is getting those pitches and getting the arm strength up there,” Norris said. “I felt like I threw a lot of quality pitches, good pitches that were close and competitive. The three walks to Johnny [Damon] didn’t help me, but I felt good.”
Mark Melancon was the only pitcher on the mound Thursday that did not give up a run. He pitched a scoreless seventh, retiring all three batters he faced, including one by strikeout.
Michael Bourn (.283 average this spring) went 2-for-4 at the plate, and Brett Wallace went 2-for-3 with singles in his first two at-bats and he drove in his 18th run of the spring. Jason Michaels had an RBI double, and J.R. Towles connected on his third homer of the spring.
What went wrong: Jeff Fulchino had a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth before running into trouble in the sixth. He gave up a two-run homer to Sam Fuld that was likely wind-aided, but it still counts. Fulchino allowed two hits and one walk and struck out two batters in two innings.
Wilton Lopez had a rare blip, giving up two runs and two hits in one inning, raising his ERA to 3.38 (the same as Melancon’s). Fernando Abad’s rough spring continued as he couldn’t get the ball down and allowed three hits and three runs, including a home run, in the ninth inning. The lefty’s spring ERA is 11.74.
Carlos Lee (.204 spring average) went 0-for-4, and Chris Johnson (.263) went 0-for-4 for the second game in a row. Bill Hall went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and is hitting .188 this spring.
What they said: “With Bud, he had good stuff and he was able to work out of that jam in the first and really did a good job. As the innings went along and kept getting into those jams, he started to overthrow a little bit, but his stuff was still there. Abad, we’d like to get his fastball command a little better. The other pitches, he has good command and is down.” — Astros manager Brad Mills.
What’s next: Right-hander Nelson Figueroa, the Astros’ fifth starter, will make his final start of the spring when the Astros face the New York Yankees at 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday in Tampa, Fla. Ryan Rowland-Smith, Ross Wolf, Jose Valdez and Gustavo Chacin are also scheduled to pitch for the Astros, who will take every position player to the game except for left-fielder Carlos Lee and catchers J.R. Towles and Carlos Corporan.
Injury update: Hunter Pence, who took three stitches in his right shin Wednesday after sliding home, was held out Thursday as a precaution by manager Brad Mills. … Second baseman Bill Hall fouled a ball off his foot, but said he was fine.
Ah, yes. The return of the pictures:
Above: Mark Melancon pitches to Ryan Rowland-Smith while I play umpire. I called it a strike.
Above: Brad Mills hits some ground balls during drills.
Above: Robinson Cancel (left) puts on his gear as he talks to Carlos Corporan. Astros signed Cancel a couple of weeks ago to Minor League deal, and they reassigned him to Major League camp on Thursday. He will stay with the team through next week’s exhibition against Boston, but will start the year in Triple-A.
Above: Pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers put in their work in the bullpen Thursday morning, with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg watching closely.
Above: The flags give an indication of how hard the wind was blowing out Thursday.
The Astros beat the split-squad Cardinals, 3-2, on a hot Saturday at Osceola County Stadium, taking their Grapefruit League winning streak to four games. Bud Norris looked extremely sharp against the Cardinals — what else is new? — and the Astros made the most of their seven hits.
Here is the rundown:
What went right: Let’s start with Norris, who had his best spring outing of the year. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing six singles, no walks and striking out five batters. Norris threw 79 pitches, including 54 strikes.
“Spring’s been ideally getting in your work and the numbers haven’t really been there, but I felt good today and everything was there,” Norris said. “I really mixed pitches well. I was really happy with the seven ground balls and no walks. That was the key for me today, pounding it down in the strike zone.”
Jeff Fulchino and Mark Melancon each threw a scoreless inning in relief, with Melancon lowering his spring ERA to 1.50.
At the plate, the Astros spread seven hits around with Jason Bougeois (.341 spring average), Clint Barmes (.239), Brett Wallace (.362), Matt Downs (.290), Carlos Corporan (.421), J.R. Towles (.379) and Tommy Manzella (.333) each getting one hit. Manzella, Wallace and Corporan had doubles.
Barmes made one of the best defensive plays you’ll ever see at shortstop in the second inning when he went deep into the hole between second and shortstop and threw out Mark Hamilton at first base by a hair. Bourgeois nearly upstaged him in the seventh with a terrific diving catch in center field. Bourgeois then rose to his feet and threw out the runner at first for a great double play. He’s hitting .341 and is making a strong case to make the club as the fifth outfielder.
What went wrong: Not much. There were a few 0-fers: Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson and Jason Michaels were each 0-for-3, though Lee drove in a run. Bill Hall was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Brandon Lyon and Casey Fien each allowed two hits and one run in two innings of work.
What they said: “He did have some good results. The thing about Bud is he was really able to make some pitches with both his slider and his fastball and moving his fastball around the zone. He’d get behind a few hitters and he’d come back and when he needed to make a pitch he was able to do it with his fastball and his slider, and he threw some real nice changeups. That was pretty special as well.” – manager Brad Mills on Bud Norris’ strong outing Saturday.
What’s next: All five candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation will be in action Sunday when the Astros play their sixth and final split-squad games of the season. Ryan Rowland-Smith will start in Kissimmee against the Pirates, with Jordan Lyles following him. Lance Pendleton is also scheduled to pitch in that game. Nelson Figueroa will get the start in Lake Buena Vista against the Braves, with Aneury Rodriguez to follow him.
Injury update: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, whose previous scheduled start last Tuesday was scratched because of a mild tendinitis in his right shoulder, will throw in the bullpen Sunday and is scheduled to return to the mound Tuesday against Washington in Viera. … Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) fielded ground balls Saturday and said his back feels fine. He will try to take batting practice Sunday. … Center fielder Michael Bourn will return to the lineup Sunday after being held out Saturday as a precaution. “He was under the weather a little bit but he played in the heat and I don’t want to get him run down and so tired he has a setback and get really sick,” manager Brad Mills said.
Here are the photos:
Above: Some Astros Minor Leaguers watch drills on one of the back fields.
Above: Astros ace Brett Myers fires a pitch in the bullpen, with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg catching him.
Above: Catcher Brian Esposito chases a ball during drills on Saturday morning.
Above: Matt Downs makes solid contact in batting practice on Saturday.
Above: Hunter Pence and Jose Cruz sign autographs.
Above: Lance Berkman, making his return to Osceola County Stadium, yucks it up while he stretches with the Cardinals.
The Astros’ split-squad team lost the Braves, 7-1, on Sunday afternoon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The game was pretty uneventul for the Astros until the ninth inning, when Minor League outfielder Telvin Nash hit perhaps the longest homer in the history of Champion Stadium, sending a pitch over the giant scoreboard in left-center.
The Astros had a much better day against the Tigers in Lakeland, where J.R. Towles went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the spring in a 3-1 win. But since I was at Disney here’s the breakdown of the loss to the Braves:
What went right: Aneury Rodriguez, Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino and Mark Melancon each threw one scoreless inning in relief, with Fulchino striking out a pair of batters. He has looked extremely sharp this spring and completely recovered from offseason elbow surgery. He’s likely pitched himself onto the Opening Day roster at this point.
Melancon gave up two hits and a walk, but escaped without allowing a run. The only hits the Astros managed were by Anderson Hernandez, Hunter Pence, Tommy Manzella and a mammoth home run by Minor League outfielder Telvin Nash.
What went wrong: The Astros were held to four hits in 31 at-bats and struck out 10 times against the Braves. Bud Norris started and allowed five hits, five runs and two walks in three innings, but Norris is still working on pitches and his outing shouldn’t be any kind of cause for alarm. The good news, Norris said, is he got his pitch count up and he felt fine.
Carlos Lee made a fielding error in left field, and Arcenio Leon was roughed up in one inning of work, allowing two hits and two runs and one home run.
What they said: “Just the biggest point right now is getting the pitch count up there, and I felt pretty good. The slider wasn’t where I wanted it to be today. The first home run it definitely hung up there and the guy made a good swing on it, so I’m still working on stuff. All in all, I was worried about getting my pitch count up there.” – pitcher Bud Norris, who gave up home runs to Wilkin Ramirez in the second and Chipper Jones in the third inning Sunday.
What’s next: The race for the fifth spot in the rotation heats up when Nelson Figueroa takes the mound for the Astros against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Figueroa has won both is his previous Grapefruit League starts, allowing one earned run in five innings. Reliever Wilton Lopez, who has four perfect one-inning outings under his belt this spring, is also scheduled to pitch for Houston.
Injury update: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has come down with mild tendinitis in his left shoulder and will be skipped Tuesday as a precaution. … Astros general manager Ed Wade said he was pleased with how right-hander Alberto Arias, who’s throwing on flat ground, and infielder Jeff Keppinger, who’s coming off foot surgery eight weeks ago, are progressing from their injuries.
Here are the pictures:
Above: Astros players stretch prior to Sunday’s game against the Braves.
Above: The Astros had been using the designated hitter all spring, but Bud Norris became the first pitcher to hit in a game. He struck out in his only at-bat against the Braves.
Above: Brandon Lyon is interviewed by MLB Network prior to the game.
Above: Carlos Lee plays catch on the field prior to Sunday’s game.
Above: Koby Clemens makes contact during batting practice.
Above: Hunter Pence is never shy about signing autographs for Astros fans.
Above: Michael Bourn grabs a bat and emerges from the dugout for Sunday BP.
The Astros rallied for a run in the ninth-inning for a walk-off win over the Nationals, 6-5, on Thursday night at Osceola County Stadium. Bryce Harper, the top pick in the draft last year, made an errant throw from right field to allow the winning run to cross the plate.
Tied at 5 in the ninth with Jimmy Paredes on first base, Brian Dopirak sent a laser into the right field corner. Paredes was originally given the stop sign at third base, but Harper’s poor throw allowed him to score the winning run.
What went right: There were solid pitching performances up and down the boxscore, beginning with starter Wandy Rodriguez. The left-hander was pretty good in his third start of the spring, allowing four hits and one run in four innings. He threw 71 pitches (25 in the first inning) and retired eight of the final nine batters he faced.
Brandon Lyon threw a crisp 1-2-3 inning and benefitted from a terrific diving stop by second baseman Bill Hall, and Jeff Fulchino allowed a lead-off hit in the sixth, but quickly got a double play and finished the inning in quick fashion. Ross Wolf and Sergio Escalona also pitched scoreless innings and struck out one batter.
At the plate, the Astros had 13 hits, with Jason Bourgeois (2-for-4) and Chris Johnson (2-for-3) leading the charge. Johnson ripped a two-run single in the third inning and is now hitting .304. Matt Downs continues to make a push to make the club, going 1-for-3 with an RBI double while starting at first base. Tommy Manzella had two plate appearances and put down a sacrifice bunt and drew a walk to start out the ninth.
What went wrong: Wesley Wright had a rough night on the mound, allowing three hits, two walks and four runs in one inning, raising his ERA to 13.50. Hunter Pence finally cooled down and went 0-for-4, but no one is worried about him.
There wasn’t much else manager Brad Mills could feel badly about. The Astros squandered a bases-loaded situation in the first inning when Bill Hall hit into a double play, but Hall came back with a double in the third.
What’s they said: “Last year, I got hurt and didn’t get to finish up the season, and then Houston came in and to be part of this team and organization, it’s a great feeling alone by itself. My first at-bat [in the seventh], I came up looking to drive the ball and missed that pitch and got a little under it [and popped out]. I tried to make the adjustment to my next at-bat and stayed through it a little bit longer and was looking for a pitch up in the zone and jumped on it. I felt good. My swing’s been feeling pretty good. It felt good to help the team win and come up in that situation and do that.” — Astros outfielder Brian Dopirak on his ninth-inning heroics.
What’s next: Manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff will have the opportunity to watch two games on Friday, with the Astros playing a split-squad game against the Red Sox in Kissimmee in the afternoon and playing another game against the Nationals in Viera at night. This will be the Astros’ fourth split-squad date of the spring. Brett Myers will start against the Red Sox and is scheduled to throw about 75 pitches, and Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton will start against the Nationals.
Injury update: Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was scratched from Tuesday’s game in Fort Myers due to back spasms, has made progress and returned to the lineup Thursday at designated hitter. … Right-hander Alberto Arias played catch on Thursday and said his shoulder felt fine. He will throw from 90 feet on Friday and take Saturday off as he continues to battle back from inflammation and tries to get into a game for the first time this spring. … Right-hander Sammy Gervacio (shoulder) could begin throwing soon. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who left his start Monday with a mild hamstring strain, said he feels good and will start Sunday against the Braves.
Here are the pictures of the day:
Above: Manager Brad Mills watches cut-offs and rundowns on Thursday.
Above: Matt Downs reaches for a ball being thrown from the outfield.
Above: Wilton Lopez concentrates while trying to make a play during rag ball drills.
Above: Michael Bourn and bullpen coach Jamie Quirk give each other a fist bump during BP. They were probably agreeing on how great UH is going to be in football this year.
Above: Bill Hall swings away in batting practice. I’m glad he didn’t foul it back into my face.
We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.
Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:
Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.
Brett Wallace (L)
Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.
Michael Bourn (L)
Brian Bogusevic (L)
Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Wandy Rodriguez (L)
J.A. Happ (L)
Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)
Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Fernando Abad (L)
Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.
The Astros split a pair of games Tuesday afternoon, beating the New York Mets, 5-4, in Kissimmee, and losing, 3-2 , to the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers.
The race for the fifth starter’s spot was front and center Tuesday afternoon, with three of the five candidates for the job – Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton – all in action in two different games.
Figueroa started the split-squad game against the Mets, his former team, and gave up three hits and one run in one inning. He allowed the Mets to load the bases with one out in the first inning, but allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly.
Rodriguez started the Astros’ other split-squad game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers and gave up four hits and one walk in three scoreless innings. He was followed on the mound by Pendleton, who allowed two hits, two walks, one run and hit one batter in two innings.
Here’s the breakdown of the win over the Mets:
What went right: Plenty, beginning on the mound, where Figueroa, Mark Melancon, Wilton Lopez, Casey Fien and Sergio Escalona all pitched well.
The Astros banged out nine hits, including doubles by Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Clint Barmes and Oswaldo Navarro and a home run by J.R. Towles. It was Towles’ first home run of the spring.
“I just want to see the ball and put a good swing on it and I can’t do anything other than that,” said Towles, who went 1-for-3 to raise his average to .273. “That’s all I’m really looking to do.”
Barmes, having scrapped the leg kick he worked on all winter, went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .167, and Pence went 2-for-2 with a double and is hitting .524 this spring.
What went wrong: The only pitcher to get roughed up was Cesar Carrillo, who allowed two hits and two runs in one inning. Matt Downs and Brett Wallace, both of whom have had good springs, each went 0-for-3. The Astros were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
What they said: “When I first got to spring I was looking at some video and some pictures [of the 2007 and 2008 seasons], and my hands were lower than they had been [recently], so I just got my hands a little lower and am sitting back on that back leg a little bit and not going out to get it. I’m feeling good and seeing the ball well. I’ts working for me, so I don’t need to change anything right now.” – Astros catcher J.R. Towles.
What’s next: The Astros meet the Mets for the second day in a row, traveling to Port St. Lucie for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. CT game. Ryan Rowland-Smith, one of five men competing for the fifth starter’s job, will make his second start and his third outing of the spring. He allowed three runs in his first spring start Friday against the Cardinals. Jordan Lyles, also battling for the final spot in the rotation, will follow Rowland-Smith.
Injury update: Jason Michaels, who was originally in the lineup in the outfield against the Red Sox, was scratched because of back spasms. … Bud Norris, who strained his hamstring on Monday, said Tuesday he felt fine.
Now to the photos:
Above: Catcher J.R. Towles cover the plate during some drills early Tuesday.
Above: That’s Telvin Nash, a burly outfielder brought over from Minor League camp to play in Tuesday’s game, taking a swing during batting practice.
Above: Carlos Lee practices tagging up from third base.
Above: Ryan Rowland-Smith practices fielding a ground ball during drills. Bud Norris awaits the throw at third base.
Above: Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton convinces Hall of Fame guy Clint Barmes to be his guest on Astroline on Wednesday night. He said yes.
Above: That’s former Astros pitcher Tim Byrdak, now trying to win a job with the Mets.
The Astros blew their second large lead in as many days Monday, watching the Washington Nationals score nine runs in the eighth inning – when all of the regular players were out of the game – and rally for a 14-9 win over the Astros at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.
The biggest news of the game came in the seventh inning when Bud Norris, who pitched in relief, had to leave with a mild right hamstring strain. Norris said after the game it was just a tweak and that he wasn’t too worried about it.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: The Astros had another big day at the plate, getting 15 hits one day after they had 17 hits against the Yankees. Among the starters, Michael Bourn, Clint Barmes and Brian Bogusevic were 1-for-4, and Chris Johnson was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer. Bourn homered to right field in the first at-bat of the game.
We’ll put J.A. Happ in the good category, even though he gave up three runs in the second inning. All three runs were unearned – Johnson made a two-out error at third base in the inning – and he gave up three hits and two walks. Norris threw two good innings before giving up a double and then leaving with a hamstring strain.
Happ looked terrific in striking out former teammate Jayson Werth with a 3-2 cutter in the first inning, but walked a pair of batters in the second, including one with the bases loaded. Happ said pitching with some traffic on the bases early in Spring Training isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I don’t want to get used to having to do that, but it is good,” he said. “It’s a good situational refresher how to pitch. It’s a little reminder that I rush myself when guys are on base sometimes, and I probably need to try to get ahead with the fastball a little bit more than I did today. All in all, I thought it went OK.”
Henry Villar pitched between Happ and Norris and threw two scoreless innings.
What went wrong: In addition to Johnson’s two-out error that helped the Nationals along in the second inning and the injury to Norris, relievers Patrick Urckfitz and Jorge De Leon combined to give up nine runs in the eighth. Urckfitz allowed four hits and five runs in 1 2/3 innings, and De Leon gave up five hits and four runs while getting just one out. Neither of these guys are going to make the club, but they need to take advantage of these situations.
What they said: “He was a little inconsistent and he’s going to have those, but he was able to come back to an extent. That inconsistency is something he’ll work through and there’s no reason to think he won’t.” - Astros manager Brad Mills said of J.A. Happ.
What’s next: It’s another split-squad date for the Astros, who will play the Mets at home in Kissimmee and the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Astros manager Brad Mills, who spent six years as the bench coach of the Red Sox, will travel to his old stomping grounds in Fort Myers, where Rule 5 pick Aneury Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring and will be followed by fellow Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton. Nelson Figueroa will start in Kissimmee against the Mets, his former team.
Injury update: Bud Norris left Monday’s game with a mild hamstring strain, but he’s expected to be fine. … Jason Michaels is expected to play left field on Tuesday in Boston. He hasn’t played in the outfield this season because of some arm discomfort.
And now to the pictures, which are a little on the light side today because the lighting in Viera played tricks with my fancy camera:
Above: Hunter Pence stretches his legs before he hits on field Monday.
Above: Brett Wallace stretches his legs on the field.
Above: Michael Bourn does a promotional voiceover for MLB.com