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Of course, the big news of the day at Astros camp was the announcement that Jimmy Paredes was being sent to Minor League camp to work at second base, meaning Chris Johnson is the likely starter at third base. Here’s a video package of Astros manager Brad Mills and GM Jeff Luhnow talking about the decision.
Here is the breakdown of Friday’s game:
What went right: Pitching, pitching, pitching. The Astros held the Nationals to three hits and didn’t give up a hit until Jayson Werth singled with two outs in the seventh inning off Brett Myers. Starter Bud Norris walked one batter in three hitless innings and Lucas Harrell retired all nine batters he faced. Then there was another strong outing by Myers, who pitched a scoreless innings while working in back-to-back games for the second time this spring. Brandon Lyon also had a scoreless inning.
Astros manager Brad Mills said early Friday he wanted to see the Astros tighten things up with only two weeks left before the start of the regular season, and the team did just that. Houston bashed 12 hits and didn’t make an error. Brian Bixler, starting in the outfield, strengthened his case to make the team by going 2-for-4 with a homer against his former team while starting in the outfield. Chris Johnson also belted a homer.
Carlos Lee also had a pair of hits and an RBI. Jed Lowrie, Travis Buck, Justin Ruggiano, Jose Altuve, Jack Cust and Brett Wallace also had hits. For Cust, his pinch-hit single in the third inning was his first of the spring, snapping an 0-for-24 drought. Cust still isn’t seeing any time in the outfield because of cranky left elbow.
What went wrong: Bud Norris was held to three innings because he woke up Friday with tightness in his triceps, but manager Brad Mills has no concerns and says Norris will be able to make his next start.
Other than a homer allowed by Fernando Abad to Jason Michaels, there’s not much that went wrong for the Astros. The only starting position player to not get a hit was Brian Bogusevic, but he walked and stole a base and scored.
What’s next: The race for the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation will take center stage when Kyle Weiland takes the mound to face the Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT in Bradenton, Fla. Weiland has allowed four hits and two runs in seven innings in his last two spring starts.
What they said: “He really had a tough time getting his arm loose and had a little tightness in his triceps. So when he went out there, [pitching coach Doug Brocail] was saying, ‘Let’s see if we can get 45 pitches out of you anyway and get some work in and get through three innings.’ Sure enough he did, and he threw the ball really well.” — Astros manager Brad Mills on starting pitcher Bud Norris.
Injury update: CF Jordan Schafer, who sprained his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield on Sunday, said he’s still a few days away from being able to return to the lineup. Schafer took some swings off a tee Friday but had to shut it down when he tried to hit live pitching. … LHP Sergio Escalona has hit a roadblock in his recovery from a hyper extended left elbow suffered swinging a bat early in camp. The Astros said he was set to be examined by a doctor. … OF Jack Cust was originally scheduled to start in the outfield in Friday’s B game, but was moved to designated hitter because of his balky left elbow. Cust has yet to make an appearance in the outfield during a Grapefruit League game this spring, but he came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit in the third to snap an 0-for-24 spring drought.
Here are the pictures:
Behind a dominant pitching performance from Mets knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey, the Astros lost to the Mets, 8-2, on Thursday afternoon to fall to 9-9. Here is the boxscore.
Now, onto the breakdown:
What went right: Rhiner Cruz, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, had easily his best outing of the spring, and it came against his old team. He struck out a batter to end the fourth and strand runners at second and third, and then pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning and finished with two strikeouts.
Closer Brett Myers continues to pitch extremely well. He pounded the strike zone in his one inning of work, pitching around an error, and was at 90-92 mph on the radar gun. “He was spotting his fastball and his curveball had good depth,” manager Brad Mills said. “He was able to throw the curveball two different speeds — a hard one and a softer one, and both of them had real good depth. Obviously, he’s starting to get the feel for that because it was the same way last time.”
Henry Sosa also pitched well, allowing one hit and striking out two batters in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Not much to brag about at the plate, though the Astros did scorch some balls in the ninth inning, including a hit by Brad Snyder. Justin Ruggiano came off the bench and had a pair of hits, including a double. The only other hit was a single by Scott Moore, who also made a tremendous defensive play at third base in the eighth.
Matt Downs hit a rocket in the ninth inning that would have been extra bases had the left fielder not made an acrobatic catch at the wall.
What went wrong: The Astros didn’t manage a hit against Mets starter R.A. Dickey until Justin Ruggiano’s pinch-hit in the sixth inning. Among those going 0-for-3: J.B. Shuck, Travis Buck, J.D. Martinez, Jimmy Paredes and Jason Castro. When Dickey changes speeds like that, he’s tough to hit.
Wandy Rodriguez battled command problems all game, throwing 80 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits, four runs and walked five batters and said after the game he understands he needs to pitch deeper into games. Rodriguez hasn’t had a good spring, but he did the same thing last year and was pretty good in the regular season.
Sergio Escalona, in only his second appearance of the spring because of an elbow hyper-extension, gave up four hits and four runs (three earned) in one-third of an inning.
The Astros also committed three errors: a fielding error by Paredes at third, a missed catch by Carlos Lee at first on a throw from Paredes that was a little wide and a fielding error by Moore. Ruggiano and Snyder collided in right-center field chasing a ball, but Snyder hauled it in.
What they said: “His concern comes from he wants to be out there throwing to work on things. When his pitch count gets so high early the game, those are stressful innings and I don’t want to kill him out there.” — Astros manager Brad Mills on pulling starter Wandy Rodriguez in the fourth after 80 pitches.
What’s next: Bud Norris starts when the Astros return home to face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Friday. Norris gave up five hits, five runs and four walks in his previous outing Saturday against the Yankees. Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who fouled a ball off his foot Tuesday and hasn’t played since, is scheduled to make his return to the lineup.
Injury update: Center fielder Jordan Schafer (left hand sprain) is day-to-day, but won’t play until Saturday at the earliest. … Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who fouled a ball off his foot Tuesday and hasn’t played since, is scheduled to make his return to the lineup Saturday.
Here are a few pictures from Digital Domain Park:
The Astros broke out the big bats, getting the first home runs of the spring from Carlos Lee and Jed Lowrie, to beat the Mets, 9-5, on Sunday and snap a three-game losing streak. Here is the boxscore.
Here is the breakdown:
What went right: The Astros pounced on Mets starter Mike Pelfrey and finished with 12 hits, including eight extra-base hits (six doubles, two home runs). The top of the batting order was especially productive, with Jordan Schafer walking twice and scoring two runs, Jed Lowrie going 2-for-3 with a homer and a double from the left side of the plate, Travis Buck going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs and Carlos Lee going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and five RBIs.
Mills continues to like Lowrie in the No. 2 spot.
“The games he’s hit second, he’s really swung the bat well and that’s nice to see,” he said.
Elsewhere, Brett Wallace was 1-for-1 with an opposite-field double, Scott Moore was 1-for-4 with a double, Jimmy Paredes was 1-for-4 with a run scored and Humberto Quintero, who had been slowed by a bulging disk in his back, made his Grapefruit League debut and went 1-for-3 while catching for five innings.
The Astros turned a pair of double plays, and Paredes stole a base.
On the mound, three relief pitchers combined for four scoreless innings. Enerio Del Rosario allowed one hit in two clean innings, and Brandon Lyon and Fernando Abad enjoyed 1-2-3 frames.
What went wrong: Starting pitcher Livan Hernandez got knocked around a little bit, allowing five hits, four runs and three walks in three innings. He said he felt he was rushing to the plate a little bit and wasn’t too worried, considering he’s got a few more starts left in Florida.
“He just really wasn’t killing himself out there and he went back out for 11 more pitches [in the fourth] and then I went and got him,” manager Brad Mills said.
Fernando Martinez went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk against his former team, and Matt Downs went 0-for-4 and committed a fielding error while playing second base.
What they said: “I feel comfortable at the plate and I feel I’m in the right position to hit. I’m seeing the ball pretty good, and I’m happy where I am at right now.” — Astros first baseman Carlos Lee on driving in five runs Sunday, including a three-run home run.
What’s next: Right-hander Kyle Weiland, who has allowed no runs and three hits in eight innings this spring, makes the start for the Astros when they travel to Jupiter, Fla., to meet the Miami Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT. Weiland threw four hitless innings Monday against the Yankees in Tampa and is in the thick of the race for the fifth starter’s spot.
Injury update: CF Jordan Schafer left Sunday’s game in the third inning after spraining his left hand while making a diving catch. He’s listed as day-to-day after X-rays were negative. … LHP Sergio Escalona (elbow inflammation) is available to pitch and could get into a game as early as Monday, but most likely Tuesday. … OF Jack Cust (right elbow tendinitis) played three innings in the outfield in a Minor League game Sunday and threw out a runner, while going 1-for-1 with two walks. Cust has yet to play in the outfield in Grapefruit League play because of the elbow.
Here are some photos: