Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’

Game 25: Astros club 4 homers to back pitching

What happened: The Astros slugged four homers, including two by backup catcher Carlos Corporan, and got solid pitching from Lucas Harrell, Hector Ambriz and Brad Peacock to beat the Tigers, 7-2, on Thursday night at Joker Marchant Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: C Carlos Corporan is feeling as good as he has all spring at the plate, and he might even be swinging the best bat of his career. The switch-hitting backup backstop blasted two homers — one off Justin Verlander and the other off Al Albuquerque.

“You can mature in the game and you get to know your swing and you learn,” Corporan said. “You can learn what the pitcher is trying to do. My swing has always been there and now I have more experience and figured out what they’re trying to do to me. I feel more mature.”

What we learned II: The Astros are going to have a tough decision to make when it comes to deciding the final two spots in the rotation. The club’s off-season mission of adding starting pitching depth worked, and with a week to go in camp, RHPs Brad Peacock, Alex White and Edgar Gonzalez and LHP Erik Bedard are all pitching well down the wire. Peacock worked three scoreless innings in relief Thursday.

“I felt good,” he said. “I was getting in better counts and I threw strikes. That’s all I wanted to accomplish, and that’s what I did. I threw good tonight, and hopefully I opened some eyes.”

What else: IF Brandon Laird was thrown into the game when Brett Wallace left with a pinched nerve in his neck, and he smacked his fifth homer of the spring to tie C Jason Castro for the team lead. … 3B Matt Dominguez continues to swing a good bat this spring, going 2-for-4 with a homer to improve his batting average to .314. … The Astros turned double plays in the second and sixth innings. … RF Rick Ankiel showed off his arm, throwing out a runner at third base in the fifth inning. … The Astros didn’t make an error.

What went wrong: Other than Wallace leaving with a mild injury, it was a near flawless night for the Astros.

What they said: “We don’t have a good team on paper, but on talent I think we have a really, really good team. We have a lot of people who can change the game with one swing. That’s going to be my goal this year, trying to keep it two or three runs per game and I know someone is going to turn on one. That’s the big difference between this year and last year.” — Astros backup C Carlos Corporan.

What’s next: RHP Bud Norris, who was named as the club’s Opening Day starter on Wednesday, gets the start for the Astros when they face the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. Friday at Osceola County Stadium. RHP Jose Veras, who just helped the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic, is scheduled to get back on the mound for the Astros for the first time since March 1.

Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (lower back strain) is day-to-day. … 1B Brett Wallace (pinched nerve in neck/upper back) is day-to-day. … RHP Edgar Gonzalez (bruised shin) took a liner off his shin during a Triple-A game on Thursday and is day-to-day.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day:

The day in photos:

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Steve Sparks shows off his grip to Tony DeFrancesco, perhaps campaigning to eat up some innings this year in Oklahoma City

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Bo Porter throws BP

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Rick Ankiel makes good contact. Good form, too

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Justin Maxwell, John Mallee and Chris Carter

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Baseball flying towards Jose Altuve

Game 24: White helps his rotation cause

What happened: Relief pitcher Kevin Chapman, pitching on the one-year anniversary of his trade to Houston, allowed four runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning of work in the seventh as the Mets rallied to beat the Astros, 7-5, at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Bud Norris is the Opening Day starter. It certainly came as no surprise that the Astros would tab Norris to start March 31 against the Rangers considering his stature on the team and the fact he’d make more starts at home in the first half of the season than he would if he was in the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

“I think he’s earned it,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “His last outing was very good, and he’s proven he can pitch at Minute Maid and pitch in big games, and he’s been around this organization. He deserves to be our Opening Day starter, and I think everybody in the organization would support that. I would hope he goes out and has a game that I know he’s capable of having and gives us a ‘W’ on that opening night.”

What we learned II: RHP Alex White helped himself Wednesday in the eyes of manager Bo Porter. White went 4 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three runs while throwing 68 pitches against the Mets.

“He helped himself. He attacked the zone and made some really good quality pitches,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “We did have a conversation, you get two outs and nobody on base, you want to attack that next hitter and if you think a guy’s a good fastball hitter, he’s a much better fastball hitter at 3-2.”

What else: LF Chris Carter went 0-for-2 with two walks and two strikeouts. … RF J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4. … 3B Jose Martinez, who made a fielding error early in the game, made a spectacular diving stop and threw out a runner later in the game. … RHP Josh Fields had a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 3.52. … RHP Brad Peacock was supposed to follow White to the mound, but the threat of rain forced Porter to push him back to Thursday.

What went wrong: Other than a rough outing by Chapman and a bad error by Jose Martinez, not much to focus on.

What they said: “I’m excited to go out there and give this team every opportunity to go out there and win, and very excited to do it in Houston on a nationally televised game.” — Astros RHP Bud Norris on his Opening Day nod.

What’s next: RHP Lucas Harrell, who found out on Wednesday he will start the second game of the season for the Astros, will start for the Astros when they face the Tigers at 5:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland, Fla., on Thursday. Harrell, who has allowed three earned runs 13 innings this spring, will start the Astros’ second game of the season, April 2 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Brad Peacock will also pitch in the game.

Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (lower back) is day-to-day.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day: Here’s the full story of Bud Norris being named Opening Day starter. Astros notebook has plenty of new information, including Jose Altuve’s take on batting leadoff, Jeff Luhnow on how options could affect roster construction, Jordan Lyles thoughts on being optioned to Triple-A and so much more. Check it soon at

The day in photos

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Rick Ankiel and Dave Trembley

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Jose Altuve

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High knees for Trevor Crowe, Brandon Laird and J.D. Martinez

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Jake Elmore appears to clean his glasses on Rick Ankiel’s jersey

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Jason Catro leads morning stretch

Lyles: ‘I’m going to try to be ready for April’

Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles was roughed up by the Jays on Tuesday afternoon in Dunedin, Fla., allowing 10 runs and six hits – two home runs – in 3 2/3 innings while throwing 65 pitches. It’s been rough going this spring for the 22-year-old, but he remains confident he’ll be where he needs to be when the season starts.

“My stat lines this spring haven’t been good in any way, but at the end of the day you can’t look at that,” he said. “Personally, I would like to be better, but I’m working on things and I’m going to try to be ready for April and not this month. I’m looking forward to the season. This is the best I felt in Spring Training and the numbers aren’t there for me right now. I’m not overly worried about that.”

Lyles, who has allowed 36 hits and 23 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings this spring, gave up a solo homer to Melky Cabrera in the first inning and a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the fourth. He said he was working on spotting his slider in Tuesday’s outing.

“This is probably the first time I’ve not thrown any cutters,” he said. “I really worked on that today, just throwing sliders and I really like the direction we’re going with that so I can lay off the cutters more. I got some good swings out of guys in that aspect and I like where that’s headed.

“A couple guys made me pay on fastballs today. I’m not too worried about that. They were just balls over the plate and good players making good swings. The 2-0 fastball to Bautista, that’s just a good swing by a really good player.”

This was the first time this spring Lyles was paired with catcher Jason Castro, which is something the big right-hander liked.

“It was nice getting back out on the mound working with Jason again for the first time this spring,” he said. “It was fun to work with him again and going into the season hopefully we can get together a couple of more times and get in sync. But like I said, it was good to get back with him today.”

Castro said he’s not worried about Lyles.

“I thought he had good stuff today,” he said. “I was really impressed with his slider. That’s something I know he’s been working on for a while. He plays with the slider-cutter thing, and he went with the slider today and I really liked how that looked. His change-up’s gotten a lot better and his movement on his fastball is good when we wanted to. I was happy with the way he looked today, and hopefully he can stick with that and keep getting that feel. He’ll be ready when the season starts.”

Game 21: Harrell dazzles, Correa makes debut

What happened: Lucas Harrell threw four scoreless, hitless innings and Rene Garcia broke a tie in the eighth with a two-run single to lead the Astros to a 4-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday night at Space Coast Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell appears to be over his groin problems. Harrell, who missed his turn in the rotation a week ago because of a strained groin, threw four hitless innings and walked a pair of batters in his fourth start of the spring.

“Last time I pitched against them I went in a lot, so I was trying to work on going down and away,” Harrell said. “Working with [catcher Carlos] Corporan, we were on the same page all game and I threw a lot of changeups, threw a couple of curveballs, threw some sliders. It wasn’t real good today but it’s something I can address the next few days.”

What we learned II: SS Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s Draft, can handle the bright lights. At least in Spring Training anyway. Correa stroked a game-tying RBI single to left field off Drew Storen in the eighth inning on the first pitch he saw in Grapefruit League action and wound up going 1-for-2 with a stolen base.

“My first experience in a big league game, even though it was in Spring Training, it was a lot of fun to be with the players over here and play against the Washington Nationals,” Correa said. “It was a really great experience for me.”

What else: RHP Edgar Gonzalez continues to solidify his role as a long reliever by throwing three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out two batters. … RHP Hector Ambriz threw a scoreless fifth inning. … OF Trevor Crowe went 3-for-5 with a double. … OF Rick Ankiel launched a towering home run in the fourth inning off Stephen Strasburg and is hitting .429 this spring.

What went wrong: The Astros let a pop up in the infield drop in the sixth inning on a ball that clicked off the glove of 3B Marwin Gonzalez. The error allowed a pair of unearned runs to score with two outs.

What they said: “You have to be appreciative for this stuff. I just got drafted last year and they invited me to play here. All the hard work is playing off and I have to be thankful for the opportunity they gave me to play over here.” — Astros prospect Carlos Correa on joining the big league team for Saturday’s game.

What’s next: RHP Bud Norris, who could start for the Astros on Opening Day, makes his fourth appearance of the spring when the Astros meet the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla. Norris (1-0, 7.27) has appeared in three Grapefruit League games, allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. LHP Erik Bedard, who’s been limited to two games this spring because of a strained gluteal muscle, will also get on the mound. The game will be carried on CSN Houston with Bill Brown and Steve Sparks calling the action.

Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez left Saturday’s game with tightness in his lower back.

Tweet of the day: GM Jeff Luhnow on SS Marwin Gonzalez’s tremendous play behind second base in the second inning:

Links of the day: Astros notebook has more on prospects Carlos Correa, Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana joining the Major League club, Dave Clark’s thoughts on getting knocked down by a ball during batting practice, Lucas Harrell talking about his outing and why manager Bo Porter chose to forgo the DH for Saturday’s game.

DeShields, Springer among Astros’ first cuts

The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, reassigning second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.

The cuts leave the Astros with 54 players in camp.

“The important thing for players like DeShields and Springer, who are a part of our future, was to come up here and make a good impression with a new staff and both of them absolutely did that,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Goebbert has been a part of our Minor League system for a while and made a good impression, and Krauss had some big hits for us.

“The message to all those guys basically is you accomplished what your goal was this spring, you came up here and made a good impression on the staff. Krauss is a little bit closer. He’s a guy you could see having some time in Houston this year, and it’s nice when the staff has positive feelings about them so when we have a discussion, if there’s an opening later in the summer, they’ll be inclined to want him to come up.

“For all those guys, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”

Minor League games begin on Thursday, and the Astros are expected to make another round of cuts later in the week, likely Wednesday. Players who were added to the 40-man roster for the first time this year can’t be cut from camp until Wednesday.

“It makes sense for them to go down there and get regular playing time rather than struggling to get at-bats up here,” Luhnow said. “As we get deeper and deeper into spring, the pitchers are going to be extended, but we want to see the position players be out there longer than two or three at-bats. It’s just a matter of allocating that resource of playing time.”

Luhnow said it hasn’t yet been determined at which level of the Minor Leagues the players cut on Sunday will begin the season. DeShields, the team’s first-round pick in 2010, was Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year after stealing a combined 101 bases last year. Springer, the team’s top Draft pick in 2011, put up big numbers at Class A Lancaster last year.

“Obviously, the more impressions they made here the better chance they have of starting at a higher level,” Luhnow said. “Realistically, given that Springer got a taste of Double-A last year and DeShields got a taste of high A, we don’t want to be too unrealistic about what the right level is for their development.”

Astros make first roster cuts

The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring on Sunday morning.

Reassigned to Minor League camp:

2B Delino DeShields Jr.

OF Jake Goebbert

OF Marc Krauss

CF George Springer

C Chris Wallace

Optioned to Minor League camp:

LHP Rudy Owens

RHP Sam Demel

Game 15: Astros can’t hang with Mets

What happened: The Mets scored three times in the third inning and four times in the fourth inning and held off a late charge to beat the Astros, 9-6, on Saturday afternoon at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (boxscore)

What we learned: Veteran RHP Edgar Gonzalez is a candidate to make the club in long relief. Gonzalez, who went 3-1 with a 5.04 ERA in six starts with the Astros at the end of last season, threw the final three innings and allowed one hit and one run while striking out two batters. With all the extra arms in competition for the rotation, Gonzalez’s future might lie in the bullpen. And he has extensive Major League experience in relief.

“He came in and threw three solid innings, attacked the strike zone and changed speeds and worked fast,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “He was in the big leagues last year. He can start games, he can be in long relief. He’s a strike-thrower and changes speed and keeps the defense on their toes and ready to go. He did a tremendous job today.”

What else: 1B Carlos Pena cranked a two-run homer in the fourth inning. … 1B Nate Freiman had a two-run single to the opposite field.RHP Chia-Jen Lo had another scoreless outing, striking out two batters in one inning. … Delino DeShields Jr., who came into the game in the sixth inning, had a pair of hits. … Porter was happy with the team’s fundamental play in the outfield, and they had plenty of chances considering the Mets bashed 12 hits, including five doubles. LF Marc Krauss and SS Jose Martinez had a terrific relay combination late in the game that nearly resulted in an out at the plate.

“We were pleased with the outfielders,” Porter said. “The relays were great, and this time of year you just want to make sure fundamentally you’re doing things right, you’re getting aligned right. Our guys are doing a good job with that.”

What went wrong: The Astros fell behind early for the second game in a row and couldn’t recover, despite swinging the bats pretty well. After starter RHP Alex White gave up five hits and four runs in 2 2/3 innings, LHP Kevin Chapman allowed three hits and three runs in one inning, and LHP Rudy Owens allowed a run and three hits in one-third of an inning. … LF Fernando Martinez‘s errant throw from left field in the fourth inning allowed a run to score.

What they said: “[The numbers] are always important, especially when I’m trying to make the club. Right now I”m trying to get my work in and get better at some things I need to get better at and I felt like I did that today. Just keep pitching.” — Astros starting pitcher Alex White.

What’s next: RHP Brad Peacock, acquired in last month’s trade that sent Jed Lowrie to Oakland, will get the start in place of RHP Lucas Harrell, who’s nursing a slight groin strain when the Astros face the Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday. Peacock has pitched three innings in three different stints this spring, allowing six hits and five earned runs as he battles for a spot in the rotation.

Who’s injured: RHP Lucas Harrell (right groin strain) will miss his start Sunday and is day-to-day. … LHP Erik Bedard (right glute strain) threw in the bullpen on Saturday and should be close to game action. … IF Jake Elmore (left oblique strain) is day-to-day.

Links of the day: Astros notebook takes a closer look at Marc Krauss, has Jeff Luhnow talking about the scouting trail and more on Jake Goebbert’s life on the farm.

The day in photos:

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Astros players get ready for morning stretch

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Dave Clark shows George Springer how to shield the sun from his eyes with two fingers

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George Springer, Kevin Chapman, Robbie Grossman

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Fernando Martinez catches up with old teammates

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Brandon Barnes yells into the stands

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Rene Garcia, Jimmy Paredes, Jonathan Villar

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Brandon Barnes is pensive

Debating the roster part of daily routine for Luhnow

Greetings from Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Astros will play the Mets at 12:10 p.m CT today.

Traditions Field

Traditions Field

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and assistant GM David Stearns are on the trip, and Luhnow said he’s pleased with some of the players who are having consistent performances, such as Brandon Laird, Rick Ankiel and Brandon Barnes.

“Those have been good outcomes,” he said. “It’s nice to have a couple of starting pitchers do well like [Philip] Humber and [John] Ely, so you can find good news and bad news in every game during the spring. It’s still early on, but I’m very excited about some for the early strong performances and hoping that more guys jump on that train.”

Luhnow and manager Bo Porter talk roster composition on a daily basis, but with three weeks before the start of the regular season, a lot can change. Remember last year? It wasn’t until halfway through spring a year ago when Lucas Harrell was stretched out and put in the rotation, and he wound up being their best starting pitcher, going 11-11.

“Bo and I are talking about it constantly, and upstairs we’re hypothesizing on scenarios on who makes the club and what it means for everybody else,” Luhnow said. “Our conversations will different today than they will a week from now and than they will at the end of March. If spring would end today, what we would we do? We have that conversations every couple of days.”

Starting lineups


2B Marwin Gonzalez

LF Fernando Martinez

1B Carlos Pena

DH J.D. Martinez

3B Brett Wallace

CF Rick Ankiel

C Jason Castro

RF Trevor Crowe

SS Jonathan Villar

RHP Alex White


RF Marlon Byrd

2B Justin Turner

1B Ike Davis

LF Lucas Duda

C John Buck

CF Matt den Dekker

DH Anthony Recker

SS Ruben Tejada

3B Wilmer Flores

RHP Jeremy Hefner

Game 14: Rough day on the mound

What happened: The split-squad Braves sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and batted around again in the second inning to jump on the Astros and hold on for a 14-9 win over Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Jordan Lyles is struggling, but he’s healthy and hasn’t yet thrown his full arsenal, so there’s no reason to be concerned yet. The Braves sent nine batters to the plate against Lyles, who threw 33 pitches, and seven of them reached base via a hit, including a hard-hit double by Reed Johnson and a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman.

“Today they just hit balls where guys weren’t, they balls hard, they hit balls soft,” Lyles said. “The credit goes to them. It has nothing to do with me really. When it comes right down to it, I need to make better pitches. But I’m not throwing all my pitches right now. The scoreboard doesn’t look good but that’s not the main focus right now.”

What we learned II: RHP John Ely has some good contol, which is why the Astros traded for him. Ely, whose first two outings were rough, righted the ship and threw three scoreless innings on a day when Astros pitchers struggled to keep the Braves off the board.

“Ely was great,” manager Bo Porter said. “He came in and stabilized the game and gave our offense a chance to go on the run we were on. I kept telling our pitchers, whether middle relief, long relief, you get an opportunity to put up zeroes, we’re going to score runs. We have a bunch of guys in our offense that can change the game with one swing. If we continue to put up zeroes, you never know what will happen.”

Here is Porter talking about starting pitching:

What else: Trailing 14-1, the Astros outscored the Braves 8-0 the rest of the way. … OF Brandon Barnes (.368) went 2-for-2 with his third homer, IF Brandon Laird (.429) went 2-for-2 and 3B Matt Dominguez and IF Jose Martinez each had two hits. OF Trevor Crowe had a three-run triple. … RHP Ross Seaton finished the game by throwing two scoreless innings. … OF Jake Goebbert made a terrific sliding catch on the left field line in the eighth inning, earning a handshake from Porter. … OF Marc Krauss hit his first homer of the spring.

What went wrong: Lyles, RHP Sam Demel and LHP Wesley Wright combined to allow 13 hits and 14 runs in two innings of work. Wright has allowed eight hits and six runs in four innings this spring, and Demel has given up 10 hits and 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

“He’s had some tough outings,” Porter said of Demel. “A lot of it is deep counts and getting into hitter’s counts and they’ve been able to put some good swings on the ball. Hopefully next time out he’s able to get some things cleaned up and able to get some hitters using his slider, which is a really good pitch to put hitters away.”

What they said: “From the fourth inning on, we won the ballgame, 7-0. It speaks to the never-say-die attitude of our ballclub and those guys fighting back to make it a ballgame. When you have guys diving at the balls in the type of game that was on the scoreboard, from a staff standpoint we take notice of those things and we realized those guys continued to fight.” -- Astros manager Bo Porter.

What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired by the Astros from the Rockies in a trade in December, gets another chance to try to win a spot in the starting rotation when the Astros travel to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets at 12:10 p.m. CT. White has worked 3 2/3 innings this year and allowed five hits and three runs.

Who’s injured: LHP Erik Bedard (strained glute) threw off the mound Friday and could throw in the bullpen Saturday. … IF Jake Elmore (strained left oblique) is day-to-day. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until April.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day: Astros notebook as Erik Bedard and Lucas Harrell talking about their injuries, neither of which is major, Geoff Blum talks about his first game as a TV analyst and Ross Seaton is learning plenty in his first big league camp despite a lack of inning.

The day in photos:

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Bud Norris goes over mechanics with Ryan McCurdy

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Minor Leaguers warm up

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Rudy Owens throws in the bullpen

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J.D. Martinez

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Justin Maxwell

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Brett Wallace

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Rio Ruiz

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Mike Foltynewicz

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Austin Wates

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Ernesto Genoves

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Tyler Heineman

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Bobby Borchering

Game 9: Astros play long ball again

What happened: J.D. Martinez and Carlos Pena each hit their first homers of the spring to lead the Astros to a 6-5 win over the Braves on Saturday afternoon at windy Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: It takes 1B/DH Carlos Pena a little bit of time to get comfortable at the plate. Pena certainly appeared to be in a comfort zone when he hit his first homer of the spring in the first inning, the only hit in a 1-for-3 day that raised his spring batting average to .214.

“Sometimes you get out there and it feels like an alien planet when you’re in the box in a game situation,” he said. “I’ve had enough experience to understand I need to be patient and keep on working on the process and the results will take care of themselves.

“It definitely felt good to get one today and I thought my timing was pretty good, my contact was pretty good and it ended up going over the fence. I’m happy with the type of move I made on it and the contact and the way everything clicked in that particular swing.”

What we learned II: Getting a couple of hits, including a home runs, can do wonders for players in the spring, even if the stats really don’t mean much. RF J.D. Martinez has retooled his swing as he tries to make the club, and he went 2-for-3 with a long homer to left-center – his first of the spring.

“It’s Spring Training and you want to get in those situations where you go up there and hit the ball hard,” he said. “You don’t care about anything else. That’s all I can control, and everybody did a great job in front of me. [Justin] Maxwell hit that double and Fernando [Martinez] drove him in and it started a rally. Hitting’s contagious.”

What else: RHP Philip Humber was much sharper in his second outing of the spring, working three innings in relief and allowing two hits and one run while striking out three batters.

“I threw more strikes and I was behind the ball a little bit better,” Humber said. “All in all, a step in the right direction. It’ s not where I want to be yet, but definitely an improvement over that first one. That’s what you want.”

What went wrong: The Astros made a season-high four errors – 2B Marwin Gonzalez, C Jason Jaramillo, SS Tyler Greene, CF George Springer. Gonzalez and Springer both made errors in the seventh inning that led to three unearned runs and prompted manager Bo Porter to huddle the infield for a talk.

“When you’re up by four runs in the seventh inning, at that point you want to play outs,” he told the team. “You don’t want to do anything drastic with the baseball, you want to take the outs they give you and take it one out at a time and go ahead and secure the game. I don’t think that we took care of the baseball in that inning, and that allowed them to get back into the ballgame.”

What they said: “I love the fact our starters are all throwing strikes. They’re down in the strike zone and if you look at the reports, they’re getting a lot of ground balls, which is huge for our defense.” – Astros manager Bo Porter.

What’s next: RHP John Ely, who pitched two innings in relief in his only spring outing Feb. 26, gets the starts for Houston when it travels to Bradenton, Fla., to face the Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday. Ely is competing for a spot in the rotation. Also scheduled to pitch are Jordan Lyles, Sergio Escalona, Sam Demel, Chia-Jen Lo and Jose Valdez.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (ankle sprain) is close to appearing in his first game. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) has returned to camp and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

Tweets of the day:

Links of the day: Astros notebook has Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s thoughts on Porter taking over the Astros. Porter played for Gonzalez in the Minor Leagues. We also catch up with Chris Johnson of the Braves in his first trip to Kissimmee since being traded by the Astros, and much more.

The day in pictures:

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Fred McGriff shares a laugh with Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Enos Cabell

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Fredi Gonzalez catches up with Bo Porter, who he managed in Triple-A in 2002

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Fredi Gonzalez gets animated with Bo Porter and Fred McGriff

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Nate Freiman

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Marwin Gonzalez from the left side

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Peter Gammons, Bo Porter and Dan Uggla

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Brett Wallace catches up with friend and former teammate, Chris Johnson

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My man Jose Cruz can still hit I bet


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