Results tagged ‘ split squad ’

Game 22: Happ battles, Cosart dazzles

It was a rough day at the ballparks (plural) on Sunday for the Astros, whose split squad was beaten, 11-1, by the Braves in Lake Buena Vista (boxscore) and 9-7 in 10 innings by the Pirates in Kissimmee (boxscore).

I chose to stay in Kissimmee, mostly for the chance to see top prospect Jarred Cosart make a Grapefruit League appearance and I’m glad I did. More on that later.

Here’s the link to the notebook, which includes Brian Bixler’s thoughts on playing the outfield and Brian Bogusevic talking about his struggles. Check back soon for reaction from Cosart about his performance.

Here’s the breakdown of the loss to the Pirates:

What went right: Jarred Cosart, the team’s top pitching prospect, pitched in his first Major League Grapefruit League game and gave up seven hits and four runs and struck out five batters in 3 1/3 innings. I put this under the “What went right” category because he was electrifying at times, pitching at 96, 97-mph and hitting 98-mph. He struck out the side in his first inning of work and had a 1-2-3 inning in his third inning. The two other innings were messy, but Cosart is here to learn and improve.

J.A. Happ’s line of five innings and nine hits and three runs wasn’t terrific, but he made some big pitches at key times and limited the damage. It didn’t hurt the Astros turned a pair of double plays behind him, either. When Cosart couldn’t finish the ninth because of his pitch count, Fernando Abad came in and got the final two outs.

At the plate, J.B. Shuck went 1-for-4 with a three-run triple in the seventh inning that tied the game at 6. Jed Lowrie hit his second homer of the spring, and both have been from the left side of the plate, which is huge. Brian Bogusevic went 2-for-3 with two walks and appears to be having better at-bats. Catcher Chris Snyder hit his third homer of the spring, off fellow University of Houston product Brad Lincoln.

Left-fielder J.D. Martinez threw out a runner at first base in the first inning after a running catch for a nice double play. The Astros didn’t make an error…officially.

What went wrong: Astros pitchers gave up 20 hits, including 18 singles. Happ allowed nine hits, Cosart seven and Enerio Del Rosario four hits in the 10th inning in his only inning of work. Del Rosario was having a pretty good spring prior to that outing. J.D. Martinez and Carlos Lee each went 0-for-3.

Minor League infielder Ben Orloff allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the ninth with Cosart on the mound when he lost a popup in the sun and couldn’t catch it, allowing a runner to scamper home from third. Orloff threw to second to get a force out, which is why he wasn’t charged with an error.

Happ was inconsistent, working in and out of trouble in all five of his innings. He loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth and allowed only one run, which was a good result at the time.

What they said: “It was a good experience with ups and downs. I did some good and some bad, and it’s part of the game and the learning curve, I guess. I was very excited and had a lot of adrenaline and tried to learn some stuff while I was there.” — Astros pitching prospect Jarred Cosart on his first Grapefruit League outing Sunday.

What’s next: Center fielder Jordan Schafer, who’s been out of action since March 18 with a sprained left wrist suffered while making a diving catch, is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday when the Astros face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT in Viera, Fla. Jordan Lyles, a candidate for the fifth starter spot, will start the game for the Astros.

Injury update: RHP Wilton Lopez, who hadn’t pitched since March 9 because of forearm tightness, returned to the mound and worked a 1-2-3 inning against the Braves with two strikeouts. … CF Jordan Schafer, who’s been out of action since March 18 with a sprained left wrist suffered while making a diving catch, is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday when the Astros face the Nationals. … OF Jack Cust (elbow) was again limited to pinch-hit duties Sunday and drew a walk against the Pirates. … Bud Norris (triceps tightness) threw 30-40 fastball in the bullpen Sunday in an effort to get ready for his next start. … LHP Sergio Escalona (ulnar collateral ligament) will miss the entire season and will under Tommy John surgery next week.

Here are the photos:

Astros Minor Leagues hang out in the outfield, including Jarred Cosart (28) and my man Alberto Arias (far right).

Livan Hernandez is always keeping it loose.

Brett Myers still wants to hit for some reason.

Jordan Schafer takes BP a week removed from spraining his hand.

Clint Barmes made his return to Kissimmee and played a hard 10 innings.

Mike Barnett gives Jordan Schafer a few pointers.

Astros split up to face Pirates, Braves

The Astros will play their first split-squad games of the spring today when they meet the Pirates in Kissimmee and send another team to play the Braves down the road in Disney. Both games are scheduled to start at 12:05 p.m. CT.

“You hate having split squads this late in camp, but at the same time to get these guys some extra at-bats is good,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “Other than that, you’d probably prefer not to have them. We’re getting enough innings from our pitchers right now, but to get these guys enough at-bats is big.”

Mills will stay with the team in Kissimmee, sending bench coach Joe Pettini and pitching coach Doug Brocail to the game against the Braves.

“The biggest thing is I wanted to be around some of the guys that are here,” he said. “We kept [outfielder Brian Bogusevic] here and I want to see him. I want to see the middle infielders, Jed [Lowrie] and [Jose] Altuve, as well. That was the biggest determining factor for me. Plus, Broke wanted to see [Zach] Duke and we were going to be split up there and that meant I stayed here.”

Here are some morning notes:

  • Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer, who sprained his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield a week ago, is scheduled to return to the lineup Monday when the Astros face the Nationals in Viera, Fla. “He took some swings in the cage this morning and he feels a lot better,” Mills said.
  • Jack Cust, who has yet to play in the outfield in the Grapefruit League this spring because of a sore elbow, still isn’t ready to play defense. Cust will get a pinch-hit at-bat on Sunday against the Pirates and was scheduled to have another pinch-hit at-bat Monday against the Nationals.
  • Mills isn’t ready to commit to shortstop Jed Lowrie in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, but he’s certainly leaning that way. “He sees a lot of pitches, gets on base,” Mills said. “I like having a left-hander in that spot because if you’ve got a guy on, you’ve got a big hole there [on the right side of the infield]. He, especially, is able to utilize that hole.”
  • Jarred Cosart, the Astros’ top pitching prospect, will make an appearance on the mound in a Grapefruit League game for the first time this spring when he pitches against the Pirates in relief. He’s scheduled to throw four innings.
  • Catcher Jason Castro will start back-to-back games for the first time this spring when he starts against the Braves today. Catcher Chris Snyder, who starts today against the Pirates, will catch Monday against the Nationals in his first back-to-back outings.
  • Bud Norris threw 30-40 pitches during his Sunday bullpen session, throwing nothing but fastballs. Norris is trying to work though some minor tightness in his triceps and forearm.

Here is the lineup for the game in Kissimmee against the Pirates:

CF J.B. Shuck

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

C Chris Snyder

3B Brett Wallace

2B Jose Altuve

LHP J.A. Happ

Here is the lineup for the game at Disney against the Braves:

CF Brian Bixler

2B Scott Moore

RF Travis Buck

1B Matt Downs

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

LF Justin Ruggiano

SS Marwin Gonzalez

LHP Zach Duke

Day 21 recap: Astros split a pair of games

The Astros finally got on the field Saturday after having two road games rained out and they beat the Washington Nationals 8-7 with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth by Minor Leaguer Jack Shuck to improve to 4-4. It was another one of those gusty, windy days at Osceola County Stadium, where balls were carrying to right field and made playing the outfield difficult.

The Astros were a split-squad on Saturday and lost 8-5 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Here’s the breakdown of the game against the Nationals:

The good: Bud Norris looked sharp, despite giving up a homer to Ryan Zimmerman on an 0-2, two-out pitch in the third. Zimmerman got the ball up in the air and it carried out of the ballpark with the help of the wind. He gave up three hits, two runs and two walks in three innings.

“I felt good,” Norris said. “That was the big part was staying healthy. It felt good to extend myself a little bit more, but the No. 1 priority was to go out there and be healthy and throw strikes, which I did. The conditions were a little tough, obviously, but being healthy was the key.”

Norris worked in his changeup against Washington’s left-handed heavy lineup.

“I’ve been working on it a lot this year and I’m happy with it,” he said.

Matt Lindstrom looked extremely sharp in throwing a 1-2-3 fourth, and Shane Loux added a scoreless inning. At the plate, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Minor Leaguer Brandon Barnes had two hits each, and Pedro Feliz went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .556. Edwin Maysonet had a two-run double and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second. Houston had 16  hits.

The bad: Without getting into specifics, Mills said he wanted to see better execution on running the bases and defense. Granted, it was a difficult day to judge where balls were going to wind up when they were hit into the breezy outfield, but Mills wasn’t using that as an excuse.

Another injury problem cropped up Saturday when right-hander Yorman Bazardo was forced to leave the mound with what was diagnosed with tightness in his right shoulder. Bazardo, who threw only three pitches, said he felt it in the bullpen but felt fine warming up on the mound. He will take the next two days off from throwing.

“They told me it was muscle tightness and nothing serious,” Bazardo said.

Jeff Fulchino allowed three hits and two runs in one inning.

What they said: “You go through a time in Spring Training, and I was hoping we weren’t there yet until after the off day [Monday], but a lot of time things don’t flow like they should, especially with the wind blowing and the balls being kind of blown all over the place. Sometimes guys get confused on where they should go or tag up or go or whatever. That’s the confusion I’m talking about. They’re good players and so many times when the ball goes up in the air the situation they planned on in their mind changes because of the direction the wind’s blowing. It’s not an excuse, and these guys have done it well before and will do it well again.” - manager Brad Mills said.

What’s next: Right-hander Brett Myers will make his third start of the spring when the Astros face the Atlanta Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium. This game could give us a look at what the Astros’ lineup could look like without Lance Berkman, who will miss two to four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Sunday.

Highlights from the game against the Cardinals in Jupiter:

  • RHP Felipe Paulino started and threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk. He threw 23 pitches (17 strikes) and then went to the bullpen and threw an additional 24 pitches, pushing his day total to 47.
  • Chris Shelton, who could be in the mix to make the Opening Day roster if Lance Berkman begins the season on the disabled list, homered. Tommy Manzella went 2-for-3 and Minor Leaguer Drew Locke was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui were both 0-for-4.
  • LHP Wesley Wright gave up four hits and four runs (two earned) in 1 1/3 innings and suffered the loss. Chia-Jen Lo allowed three hits and three runs and two walks in one inning. Gary Majewski and Polin Trinidad threw scoreless innings.

Astro-notes: Mills said the players will be given Monday off from working out, which is an off day on their Grapefruit League schedule. … Right-hander Alberto Arias, who was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation Friday, will now throw until Sunday, after which he will be reexamined. Arias said Saturday his shoulder felt better after treatment, and he could get a cortisone shot soon if he needs it. … Right-hander Brandon Lyon, who faced live hitters in the batting cage Thursday for the first time this spring, said Saturday he felt good. Mills said Lyon could face hitters again Sunday and even gave a hint to what is ahead: “We’re going to take it precautionary and bring him along slow. If he does throw well, it might in a couple of a days [when he gets in a game]. Let’s get through tomorrow’s hurdle first.” … Right-hander Brian Moehler, who was scheduled to start Friday’s game that was rained out in Dunedin, will start Tuesday’s split-squad game at the Yankees, Mills said. Moehler threw 61 pitches in a three-inning simulated game inside the batting cage in Kissimmee upon the team’s arrival from Dunedin on Friday. … With Opening Day nearly three weeks away and starters getting stretched out more in each start, the Astros will likely have to start sending players to Minor League camp soon. Here’s what Mills had to say about that: “We’ll wait and see. I haven’t sat down and talked to [GM] Ed [Wade] about it, but here becomes a time the guys that are going to be on the ballgame need to get regular at-bats on a consistent bases be ready. We’re not too far away from it, is what I’m saying.” … Catcher Jason Castro is back with the club and was in the starting lineup Saturday against Washington and played six innings. He missed two days of workouts earlier in the week. He said he had a fever of 102 degress each day.

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