Results tagged ‘ Lucas Harrell ’

Game 1: Astros hit, run, pitch way past Phillies

What happened: The Astros bashed out 14 hits, including a home run by Brandon Barnes, and got some solid pitching across the board to beat the Phillies, 8-3, in their Grapefruit League opener and American League debut (boxscore) on Saturday. After practicing their post-game handshake for two weeks, the Astros finally got a chance to use with their first win of the spring.

“Offensively these guys swung the bats and ran the bases great,” manager Bo Porter said. “I think base running was a key factor in the game and it put a lot of pressure on the other team and created more scoring opportunities for us.”

What we learned: The Astros are going to be aggressive. They stole four bases early in the game, including a double steal by Tyler Greene and Trevor Crowe in the third inning, and Porter says they will force the issue and put pressure on opponents as much as possible.

“It’s a staple of our team,” Porter said. “I told the guys earlier on in the spring that if you want to find out an identity of a ballclub, watch them run the bases. It’s aggressive, but it’s controlled aggression, and we are only going to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in front of us.”

What we learned II: RHP Jarred Cosart does OK in pressure. Cosart, the right-hander who’s battling for a spot on the club, returned to Clearwater to face his former team and pitched two perfect innings, overcoming some nerves in the bullpen prior to the game. He was acquired by Houston from the Phillies in 2011. Cosart had good arm speed on his changeup and was locating his fastball well.

“I felt great,” he said. “I was a little worried in the bullpen. It was a little off down there. Originally, I was supposed to come in in the fourth and that didn’t work out and they wanted to get Xavier [Cedeno] some work with some lefties and face [Ryan] Howard and some other guys. That kind of threw me off. I got in there and was a little sporadic in the bullpen. Nerves had something to do with that. When I got out there, it was clicking pretty well and I was getting the ball out of my glove, which is what we had been working on all Spring Training. I’m ecstatic.”

What we learned III: Barnes is a gamer. Barnes made a good first impression by hitting Houston’s first homer of the spring and throwing out a runner at the plate from center field. Here’s video of the homer.

“I’m just going to come out here and play as hard as I can,” Barnes said. “I went out to winter ball and worked on some things, and I’m just trying to carry it over here and keep going. We’re going to make a good push at this and we’re going to work hard every day.”

What else: RHP Lucas Harrell had a few mechanical issues, but for the most part he kept the ball down and made it through two innings and got in his work in his first start (Harrell video here). … OF Robbie Grossman made a nice impression by going 2-for-3, and 2B Marwin Gonzalez also went 2-for-3. … RHP Josh Zeid, RHP Sam Demel and LHP Xavier Cedeno each threw a scoreless inning.

What went wrong: The Astros had one mental mistake in the first inning. With Howard at at-bat and a shift moving another infielder to the right side of the second base, Chase Utley was able to advance two bases when no one covered third on a ball hit between first and second.

What they said: “It always feels good when you play well. More importantly, we played clean baseball. There were no errors, we swung the bat well and our situational hitting was good. Defensively, we made the plays we were supposed to make, and when you do those things right it gives you the best chance to win ballgames.” — manager Bo Porter.

What’s next: RHP Bud Norris takes the mound for the Astros in their first home game of Grapefruit League play at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium. He’s scheduled to throw two innings. Second baseman Jose Altuve, catcher Jason Castro, outfielder Rick Ankiel and designated hitter Carlos Pena, all of whom didn’t make the trip to Clearwater on Saturday, are scheduled to get their first game action.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) and catcher Max Stassi (oblique) continue to progress.

Links of the day: Astros notebook has Carlos Correa’s thoughts as he hits camp, some thoughts on how the Astros are going to get creative with their pitching staff in the Minor Leagues and much more.

The day in photos:

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Bo Porter warms up his arm.

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Bo Porter gets interviewed.

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The future: Jarred Cosart, George Springer and Delino DeShields.

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Jeff Murphy and Ryan Howard.

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Bo Porter throws batting practice.

Astros ready for game action

The Astros on Friday finished their final workout before they hit the field for their first Spring Training game of the season. They’ll battle the Philadelphia Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., where it promises to be a warm and sunny afternoon.

Lucas Harrell is scheduled to start the game for the Astros and will be one of about six or seven pitchers throwing, including Jarred Cosart. Cole Hamels is starting for the Phillies. Harrell was named the Astros Pitcher of the Year last season after going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts.

“I felt good in my last couple of sides and I felt good throwing in simulated games to the hitters, so hopefully I can take what I’m doing out to the game tomorrow,” Harrell said.

It’s only Spring Training, but getting on the mound to face other hitters is sure to increase the intensity.

“You always have a little bit of nerves,” Harrell said. “It’s always a little bit exciting. The fact is there’s a lot of guys competing for a job, and I’m one of them. Just to know that I need to go out there and pitch well and get one of those spots on the team, it’s one of those things I’ll definitely be really focused.”

Astros manager Bo Porter put the team through a shorter workout Friday after the players had a lengthy meeting with the Players’ Association.

“We worked on a lot of special plays today,” Porter said. “It was more of an explanation of shift defense, where does everybody go when you start to play these special coverages based on a hitter?”

Click here for the Astros notebook, which has information on Jose Veras playing in the World Baseball Classic, what went down at the MLBPA meeting and we catch up with former Astros player, Jose Cruz Jr. And here’s what Jonathan Singleton had to say in his first public comments since his suspension for marijuana, a suspension that will cost him 50 games.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Jose Ciserno.

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J.D. Martinez.

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Justin Maxwell.

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Justin Maxwell poses for a picture.

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Bo Porter talks to the team after the final workout of spring prior to games.

Porter visits with veterans about leadership

Astros manager Bo Porter met with a group of players prior to Wednesday morning’s workout that he wants to take a leadership role on the club this spring. The meeting, which Porter dubbed “Astros Talk,” included Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Jason Jaramillo, Erik Bedard, Bud Norris, Philip Humber, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Jose Veras and Edgar Gonzalez.

“We talked about leadership, and there’s a reason why I picked those guys,” he said. “Some of those guys have been on other teams where obviously it hasn’t been the situation we have here where we have a lot of young guys, and a lot of times these guys have been on teams and they have been the young guys.

“They now find themselves in a situation they become the older spokesmen. Like I said to them, I want to make sure we’re all on one sheet of music and we understand what leadership is all about and how you can effectively lead. If they had any questions, I wanted to be available for them to answer those questions to make sure we’re on one accord.”

Most baseball names don’t have a captain as in some other sports. The Yankees are one team that has traditionally identified a singular captain. Porter doesn’t plan to do that in Houston. Instead, he’s giving the responsibility of leader the younger players to those with the most service time.

“I explained to them, we’re not looking for one leader,” Porter said. “We’re looking for a group of leaders, because I’m a firm believer that leaders have to exist in every area, every level of the organization if you want the organization to continue to grow and continue to thrive. And the leaders have to develop the next wave of leaders. We’re not looking for one; we’re looking for a group.”

The first injury of camp was reported Wednesday morning when catcher Max Stassi, acquired in last week’s trade with Oakland, was diagnosed with a strained oblique. He will be held out of drills Wednesday.

“We’re going to pull him back a little bit as far as his workload goes,” Porter said. “He kind of tweaked his oblique a little bit.”

Here are a couple of quick morning photos:

Third base coach Dave Trembley is always smiling as he is here talking with Dave Clark and Dennis Martinez.

Third base coach Dave Trembley is always upbeat as he is here talking with Eduardo Perez and Dennis Martinez.

Bud Norris stretches prior to workout.

Bud Norris stretches prior to workout.

Astros try to snap 9-game losing streak to Brewers

The Astros will try to snap a nine-game losing streak at the hands of the Brewers when the teams meet in the first of a three-game series tonight at Miller Park. This is Houston’s first game of the season against a division foe.

Before we get to the lineup, here are some pre-series notes:

  • Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell will be making just his ninth career start tonight. In his previous eight starts Harrell has struggled in the first inning, but has calmed down thereafter. He has a career ERA of 11.25 in first innings and 2.23 in the second inning and beyond.
  • The Brewers’ nine-game winning streak over the Astros is tied for the second-longest active winning streak over an opponent in the Majors. The Tigers have beaten the Indians 10 games in a row, which is the longest current streak in Majors.
  • The Astros have used the home run to score less than 25 percent of their runs this year, which is the fourth-lowest total in the Majors. Only the Phillies (16.3), Cubs (16.9) and Mariners (21.7) have used the home run for a fewer percentage than their runs than the Astros.
  • Astros CF Jordan Schafer has reached base safely in 16 consecutive games, which is the fourth-longest current streak in the Majors. Only Lance Berkman (31), Carlos Santana (21) and Torii Hunter (19) have longer streaks, dating to last season.
  • Ryan Braun has dominated the Astros in his career, hitting .345 (98-for-284) against Houston. The only player who has worn out a club more with a minimum of 300 plate appearances is Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who’s hitting .346 against the Indians and .348 against the Royals.
  • Nine of Brewers outfielder’s Corey Hart’s 13 hits this season have been for extra bases, the highest percentage in the Majors.
  • Zack Greinke’s team has posted a win in each of his last 19 starts at home (which includes 17 home starts with the Brewers). That is the second-longest streak since 1921

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

2B Jose Altuve

RHP Lucas Harrell

Hernandez surprised by release from Astros

Livan Hernandez told MLB.com on Friday he was surprised by the Astros decision to release him. The veteran right-hander signed with Houston on Jan. 31 and appeared to have a great shot of landing a rotation spot before struggling in the spring.

“Yeah, it was surprising,” he said. “It’s a business and it’s baseball. I was very surprised when this happened. It’s tough to pitch like that, too. It’s the decision they made and I’m very happy for the chance. There’s a lot of good people in the organization, a lot of good young players and great people. Everyone in the organization is very professional.”

The two-time All-Star made five starts for the Astros during Spring Training, going 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 16 innings. In his 16-year career, the durable Hernandez has led the league in innings pitched three times and in games started twice. He’s never been on the disabled list.

Hernandez said he would like to keep playing.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “There’s 30 teams in the league. I’m 37 years old and I don’t want to retire. I never have been hurt in my career, so why do I have to retire if I feel good?”

With Hernandez out of the mix, the Astros now have three young pitchers battling for the final two spots in the rotation – Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell, who pitched five strong innings earlier this week to bolster his chances.

The Astros have 33 players left in camp, including Sergio Escalona (who will miss the whole season after undergoing Tommy John surgery):

Here are the players in Astros camp (non-roster players in italics):

Pitchers –Fernando Abad (LHP), David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Sergio Escalona (LHP), J.A. Happ (LHP), Lucas Harrell, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez (LHP), Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Wesley Wright (LHP).

Catchers — Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Landon Powell, Chris Snyder.

Infielders — Jose Altuve, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Jed Lowrie, Brett Wallace.

Outfielders — Brian Bogusevic, Travis Buck, J.D. Martinez, Justin Ruggiano, Jordan Schafer, J.B. Shuck.

Rotation battle whittled to four

Astros manager Brad Mills identified four candidates Tuesday morning who remain in the mix for the team’s final two spots in the starting pitching rotation: right-handers Kyle Weiland, Jordan Lyles and Livan Hernandez and left-hander Zach Duke. The team isn’t saying it, but Hernandez appears to be a lock, leaving Weiland, Lyles and Duke for the final spot.

Mills said right-handers Lucas Harrell and Henry Sosa are being looked at in bullpen roles.

“Because they haven’t been getting the [starts], I don’t know if you can put them in the mix right now over those other four guys,” Mills said. “If they were to show something and light our eyes they might throw themselves back into that mix, but we’re looking at spots in the bullpen as well. Or if they do something we feel would warrant them to get back into the mix, then we’ll put them right back into the mix.”

Mills expects nothing to be decided until end of camp.

“The way we’re going about it is allowing us to look at them almost to the end of camp,” he said. “There’s no doubt we’ve already seen quite a bit from those guys and we’re forming opinions as we move forward because we’ve been able to see quite a bit of them. We want it to go as long as possible so we can have as much information to make the best decision.”

– CF Jordan Schafer, who sprained his left wrist two days ago, feels better, Mills said. He’s still several days away from getting back to action.

– C Humberto Quintero will catch the second half of today’s game against the Cardinals, following Chris Snyder.

– RHP David Carpenter and Fernando Rodriguez will pitch in a Minor League game today.

– Infield Joe Thurston made his first start of the spring against the Cardinals at second base. He was also scheduled to start in the morning B game, also at second base.

Here is the Astros’ lineup for Tuesday’s 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Cardinals, which can be seen on FS Houston and heard on 790 AM.

CF Jason Bourgeois

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brian Bogusevic

1B Carlos Lee

DH Jack Cust

3B Chris Johnson

LF Justin Ruggiano

C Chris Snyder

2B Joe Thurston

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RHP Jordan Lyles

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