Results tagged ‘ Tag’s Lines ’
What happened: Philip Humber allowed only three hits — all of them solo homers — in six innings and didn’t walk a batter, and Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Craig Kimbrel in the Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Champions Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: The signing of OF Rick Ankiel could pay off for the Astros. Ankiel, a non-roster invitee, had the only two hits the Astros collected against Atlanta with a seventh-inning double and his ninth-inning, two-run homer. Ankiel appears destined to start for the Astros on Opening Day and is hitting .395 with three homers and six RBIs this spring in 38 at-bats.
“Rick Ankiel is a professional Major League Baseball player that has played at a high level in this league, played on a World Series championship team and knows how to play the game,” manager Bo Porter said. “He has a great work habits, he is a good teammate. All the things we were looking for, we found in Ankiel and he’s been everything we could have imagined he could be.”
What we learned II: If IF Brandon Laird doesn’t make the team, he’ll be one of the absolute last guys to get cut. Laird, who can play first and third base, is battling for a backup infield spot and has made a good impression with the bat, hitting .310 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 47 at-bats.
“He’s in a good spot and he’s in a good spot because he’s put himself in a good spot,” Porter said. “He’s played well in different scenarios and situations we’ve put him in, and he’s gotten some big hits, some big RBIs. Again, it’s a guy we are definitely considering as far as the 25-man roster goes.”
What else: RHPs Josh Fields and Rhiner Cruz each had 1-2-3 innings in relief of Humber.
What went wrong: The Astros were held to only two hits.
What they said: “The first two I was being aggressive and didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to, but the last one it was a 3-1 count and I decide I wasn’t going to walk the guy. I felt the wind blowing in behind me and I said, ‘Well, maybe the wind will hold it up if he gets it.’ He hit it well enough to get it out of here.” — Astros RHP Philip Humber on the three homers he allowed.
What’s next: Minor League RHP David Martinez will start for the Astros on Sunday against the Miami Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. The Astros are trying to line up their starting pitching for the start of the regular season, but a bevy of relievers are expected to get some work in as well. Martinez was 9-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) at Class A Lancaster last year.
Who’s injured: Nobody.
Tweet of the day:
Can't wait to get back to Houston.—
Lucas Harrell (@LucasHarrell34) March 23, 2013
Links of the day:
- Astros Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman claimed off waivers by Oakland.
- Astros catching situation is in good hands with Castro, Corporan.
- Astros open six revitalized fields in Houston.
- Josh Fields makes case for spot in the ‘pen.
- Humber pleased with his solid spring.
What happened: Right-hander Bud Norris threw six scoreless innings in his final Grapefruit League start of 2013, and Rick Ankiel pushed home the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning against his former team to lead the Astros to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Bud Norris is ready for Opening Day. Norris fired 84 pitches against the Cardinals and made a few mechanical adjustments as he went along, but his next major test will come when he faces the Rangers on March 31. Norris will throw a few innings in a Minor League game on Tuesday — his last appearance before the start of the season.
“Bud was outstanding,” manager Bo Porter said. “I mentioned it the last start that his secondary stuff really started to look sharp and his slider started to have some really good depth to it. He had some great changeups today. He fell behind in the count and was able to get back in the count with his changeup. Just a tremendous job of attacking the zone, working fast. The pace was great.”
What we learned II: RHP Chia-Jen Lo may have pitched his way onto the club. The Taiwanese reliever worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save to continue his strong showing this spring. Lo has appeared in nine games and allowed seven hits and two runs and struck out eight batters in 8 2/3 innings (2.08 ERA).
“Lo’s done a great job,” Porter said. “It’s an explosive fastball. He has command of three pitches he can throw any time in the count and a fastball that will get back on you.”
What else: 2B Jose Altuve went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored to up his spring average to .370. … Chris Carter saw time at DH and went 2-for-4 with an RBI single. … RHP Jose Veras and LHP Xavier Cedeno both made their returns from the World Baseball Classic. Veras allowed one hit and two runs in two-thirds of an inning, and Cedeno recorded one out. … RHP Jose Valdez threw a scoreless inning to lower his spring ERA to 1.93. … The Astros didn’t commit an error for the second game in a row. … LHP Erik Bedard threw 70 pitches in four innings in a Minor League game against Atlanta.
What went wrong: Veras was rusty in his first Grapefruit League action since March 1, but that’s no cause for alarm. CF Justin Maxwell (0-for-4), 1B Brandon Laird (0-for-4) and 3B Matt Dominguez (0-for-3) combined to go 0-for-11 as the Astros’ red-hot offense was cooled off by the Cardinals.
What they said: “You always think you do, but that’s their decision. I’ll just wait until they tell me and go from there.” — LHP Erik Bedard when asked if he thought he’d done enough to make the team.
What’s next: RHP Philip Humber, who earlier this week learned he had secured a spot as the No. 3 starter in the Astros rotation, will start for the Astros when they make their first trip to Disney to face the Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. Humber will make his Astros regular-season debut April 3 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park.
Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (back) is day-to-day. … RHP Edgar Gonzalez (leg contusion) is day-to-day.
Tweet of the day:
Links of the day:
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:
Corporan power show!—
Jeff Luhnow (@jluhnow) March 21, 2013
Links of the day:
- The Astros are looking to OF Justin Maxwell for set an example on and off the field.
- Brandon Laird’s big spring puts him in the mix to make an Opening Day roster for the first time.
- Brett Wallace is going to bat second in the lineup against right-handers.
- Lucas Harrell encouraged by his start against Tigers.
- Carlos Corporan getting the most from his pitchers and his bat.
The day in photos:
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 Astros.com
The day in photos
What happened: SS Tyler Greene‘s double to start the game against Phillies starter Cole Hamels was the only hit the Astros managed en route to losing, 7-1, to the Phillies at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Brad Peacock is working on a sinker. Peacock, who threw three scoreless innings, said people have told him all his life he needed to add a two-seamer, and this year he’s going through with it. He says it’s been difficult, but he knows that adding that to his four-seam, sinker, changeup and curveball will be beneficial.
“I’ve always tried it and it just didn’t do anything,” he said. “This year, I talked to some of the coaches and what they do when they throw a sinker and I took that advice. It’s working good. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
What else: RHP Hector Ambriz retired the only batter he faced in his second outing of the spring.
What went wrong: RHP Jarred Cosart scuffled against his former team, allowing three hits and four runs and one walk in 1 2/3 innings while struggling with control. Cosart dusted Phillies hitter Josh Fields with a pitch, nearly emptying the benches. … SS Jonathan Villar made an error at shortstop.
What they said: “Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to good pitching. Guys put some good swings on some balls and hit some balls hard, but the plays were made by the Phillies and some days you have days like this.” — Astros manager Bo Porter after his team was held to one-hit.
What’s next: The Astros are off Monday and will return to action Tuesday when RHP Bud Norris starts against the Miami Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT at Jupiter, Fla. Norris, a candidate to start on Opening Day, threw four innings in a simulated game on Monday. This will be his first appearances in a Grapefruit League game since March 1.
Who’s injured: RHP Lucas Harrell (right groin strain) is improving and listed as 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
Tweet of the day:
Nothing better than starting a morning listening to Roger Clemens talk about pitching.—
Aaron West (@WestAaron14) March 10, 2013
Links of the day: The Astros notebook has more on Delino DeShields Jr. and George Springer being among the team’s first cuts, as well as reaction to the Mexico-Canada brawl in the World Baseball Classic, Porter talking about how to respect the game and a look at how the Astros came to contract agreements with all 40 players on their roster.
The day in photos:
What happened: RHP Philip Humber threw four strong innings, and C Jason Castro bounced a two-run single into right field to score a pair of runs in the eighth inning to break a tie and send the Astros a 4-2 win over the Nationals on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: Humber has impeccable control of his fastball right now. He is still throwing mostly fastballs, and he was able to spot it so well against the Nats that he breezed through four innings.
“I threw my fastball where I wanted to throw it,” he said. “I threw four-seamers, two-seamers, and I think that helped things a little bit. When the [spring] season comes, the hitters are behind the pitchers for the most part. I’m going to have to throw more off-speed stuff than I did today [eventually]. But that’s definitely a good sign. That’s the first thing to come and usually everything else follows that.”
What we learned II: The Astros are better when they play at a quicker pace. Astros manager Bo Porter spoke to his pitchers and catchers on Thursday morning about the importance of working quicker, which he says won’t allow the defensive players to get lackadaisical on the infield.
“It’s something that we did address,” Porter said. “When you start to get deep counts and the pitchers are working slow, the defense gets on its heels a little bit. We reminded our guys, you want the plays made behind you, you need to get that ball, you need to go, you need to keep everybody on their toes and ready to go. The pitcher’s today did a great job with that, and Humber set the tone and every guy that came behind him, followed him.”
What else: OF Rick Ankiel‘s stolen bases in the eight inning set the stage for Castro’s game-winning hit. Not only did it get Ankiel into scoring position, but it forced the Nats bring the infield in with runners at second and third, and Castro bounced a hit over the infielder’s head. … OF Fernando Martinez went 2-for-2 with a double. … Only two of the Astros’ 11 hits were for extra bases. … OF J.D. Martinez, whose 22 at-bats this spring are tied for second-highest on the team, is hitting .364 (8-for-22).
What went wrong: The Astros only made one error, and it came when 1B Carlos Pena lost a high chopper in the sun and closed his glove either too early or too soon. … The Astros were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
What they said: “I was thinking that Bo was coming out to talk to me and he said, ‘Good job, you’re done,’” — Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel on being removed from the game after two innings.
What’s next: RHP Jordan Lyles will start for the Astros when they face the Atlanta Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. RHPs John Ely, Ross Seaton, Hector Ambriz and LHP Wesley Wright are also scheduled to pitch.
Who’s injured: LHP Erik Bedard (strained glute) is day-to-day). … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until April.
Tweet of the day:
Links of the day: You must read this feature on OF Brandon Barnes, whose tattoos reveal a lot about his life. The Astros notebook features owner Jim Crane talking about TV negotiations, Porter discussing the early-season rotation and LHP Erik Bedard talking about his injury.
The day in photos:
What happened: The Astros played their poorest game of the spring, striking out 15 times, issuing nine walks and committing a pair of fielding errors in an 8-5 loss to the Tigers on Monday afternoon (boxscore).
What we learned: Being able to throw hard is great, but control remains the key Astros prospect Jarred Cosart made his first spring start and struggled with his control, allowing four hits, three runs and four walks. He threw only 23 of his 48 pitches for strikes and admitted he was working too fast.
“I wanted to establish the fastball early and they had the scouting reports that I’m a fastball guy and they were attacking from the start of the game,” Cosart said. “I was up in the zone and you just can’t do that with Major League hitters. You have to put them away when you get ahead.”
What we learned II: CF Justin Maxwell has some serious raw power. Well, we actually already knew this based on his several tape-measure shots from a year ago, but his first home run of the spring — a mammoth two-run blast to left field — in the sixth inning was admired by all.
“I don’t try to hit home runs, especially in Spring Training,” Maxwell said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and just trying to find my swing right now and get better timing. … That’s just the thing. Any time I’ve tried to hit a homer I foul it off or don’t make contact, so depending on the game situation I try to hit the ball hard. If I barrel it, I have a good chance to have a positive result.”
What else: RHP Alex White also struggled with his control, allowing four hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. … Tigers reliever Al Albuquerque struck out Chris Carter, George Springer and Nate Freiman in succession in the eighth inning. … RHPs Josh Zeid and Josh Fields each threw a scoreless innings, and LHP Kevin Chapman threw 1 1/3 scoreless with two strikeouts.
What went wrong: Plenty. Let’s start with the on the mound, where Astros pitchers labored most of the game and wound up walking nine batters. Houston hurlers threw only seven first-pitch strikes and worked repeatedly into deep counts. Astros manager Bo Porter said the issue would be addressed, but the thing that really had Porter fired up was the defense. A fielding error by Jonathan Villar at short didn’t hurt the club, but Jake Elmore‘s fielding error at second allowed an unearned run to score.
The Astros have committed 15 errors in 11 games.
“We’ve got to catch the ball,” Porter said. “We’ve come back from every deficit we’ve had this entire spring. Offensively, we’re scoring runs, but at the same time we’ve got to make it a little bit easier on our pitching staff to catch the ball when it’s hit to us, and our pitchers got to do a better job of pitching ahead in the count and limiting some of those deep counts.”
What they said: “This is the thing: either you make the plays or we’re going to find someone else who’s going to make them. That’s not hard to figure out,” — Astros manager Bo Porter on the team’s defense.
What’s next: Porter, who spent the previous two years as third base coach of the Nationals, returns to Viera, Fla., on Tuesday when the Astros play the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT at Space Coast Stadium. RHP Lucas Harrell, the team’s Pitcher of the Year in 2012, will be making this third start and should be able to be stretched to four innings.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (ankle) is scheduled to make his first appearance in a spring game Tuesday. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out six to eight weeks.
Tweet of the day:
Links of the day: All kinds of good stuff in the Astros notebook: More on the meeting between George Springer and Torii Hunter, when the first round of roster cuts could happen, Mike Foltynewicz’s thoughts on the upcoming season and Tony DeFrancesco enjoying role with club after managing final 41 games last year.
The day in photos (light day today):
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:
JD Martinez did not need any help on that 2 run bomb.—
Jeff Luhnow (@jluhnow) March 02, 2013
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:
What happened: The Astros came from four runs down, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, to earn their second tie of the spring, 8-8, against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
“Just a great job by the whole group, just coming back and battling, battling, battling and getting into hitter’s counts and putting good swings on the ball,” manager Bo Porter said.
More on Porter in this video:
What we learned: OF George Springer has a hot bat. Literally. Springer, who homered twice earlier in the week, didn’t go deep Friday, but he gave his bat to OF Chris Carter and told him he’d hit a home run. Carter blasted a long blast to left field in the fifth, finally showing the kind of power we’d heard about when he came over from Oakland.
“It feels good to finally square up a ball,” Carter said. “The last few at-bats I’ve been struggling making solid contact. You want to impress early and quick, but you have to stick with what you’re doing.”
What we learned II: Porter is going to have some tough roster decisions to make. IF Brandon Laird is having a terrific spring and slugged his second homer on Friday — one day after hitting a grand slam — and OF Brandon Barnes homered for the second time this spring. Both are battling for the few roster spots, but they’re certainly helping their cause.
“As camp goes along, you want to make it to the end of camp and have tough decisions,” Porter said. “When you come into camp and have competition and one guys runs away with it, you say to yourself, ‘Wow, we must not have too much depth.’ The fact we have great competition for the roster spots going on in camp, lets us know from an organizational standpoint we have a lot of depth.”
What else: RHP Jose Veras, in his final performance before leaving for the World Baseball Classic, had a 1-2-3 fourth inning with two strikeouts. … The Astros bashed out 12 more hitters with a pair of catchers — Rene Garcia and Jason Jaramillo — having two hits apiece. … RHP Bud Norris looked strong, allowing two runs and two hits in three innings, but he had a pair of 1-2-3 innings. … Josh Zeid, Rhiner Cruz and Josh Fields each threw a scoreless, hitless inning.
What went wrong: For the second day in a row, an error opened the door for the opposition. The Cardinals scored two unearned runs in the fifth after a Brett Wallace error, and a Jake Elmore error at shortstop in the sixth led to three unearned runs with Paul Clemens on the mound.
“From a standpoint of it being Spring Training, these are teachable moments and you stress it to the ballplayers that cannot give up extra outs,” Porter said. “When get the ball, handle the ball, take care of the ball. The more men that get on base, the more opportunities they have to score.”
What they said: “I felt a lot better. It’s great to get your legs under you and you go out and compete. I’m still working on some things, just trying to stay back over the rubber and trying to find my delivery and all that. I felt good and I’m excited to keep it going.” — RHP Bud Norris on his second spring outing.
What’s next: LHP Dallas Keuchel gets his first start of the spring when the Astros face the Braves at Osceola County Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday. Keuchel has a relief appearance under his belt, but he’s competing for a spot in the rotation. RHP Philip Humber will throw in the game as well as the Astros try to divvy up starts.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (ankle) continues to ease closer to game action. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until early April.
Links of the day: Astros OF J.D. Martinez admits he put too much pressure on himself last year. Now, he’s trying to retool his swing and win a spot on the club. The Astros notebook has hitting coach John Mallee’s thoughts on the team’s hot start at the plate, Bo Porter talking about roster construction and RHP Paul Clemens’ thoughts on his career.
Tweet of the day:
Regular season will be her in 28 day—
Lucas Harrell (@LucasHarrell34) March 01, 2013
The day in photos:
What happened: The split-squad Astros got a two-run homer from Jason Castro — his second in as many games — and a solo shot from Brett Wallace to pull away from the Tigers for a 9-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at rainy Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
For the game story and boxcore on the Astros’ 7-2 split-squad loss to the Rays in Port Charlotte, click here.
What we learned: C Jason Castro feels as good at the plate as he has in a long time, going 2-for-2. He homered to left-center field in his first at-bat and later singled, also to the opposite field. He has two homers in two games this spring. He’s made a minor adjustment to allow him to stay on the ball a little bit more and drive it the other way.
“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and been getting some good pitches, trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I know it’s early in spring and guys throw a lot of fastballs right now. I’m trying to take advantage of that and it’s been good so far. The swing feels really good and I think I’m seeing the ball well. So that’s part of it. That’s what I’m looking for right now is comfort-ability and getting back in the rhythm of hitting and facing live pitching.”
What we learned II: The work IF Brett Wallace put in during the winter with hitting coach John Mallee is paying quick dividends. Wallace went 3-for-4 with a long homer to center field in the win while starting at third base.
“The ball I hit to center was a changeup, and that was something we worked on, being able to stay on my legs and if it’s not a fastball down the middle that I won’t come out of them and I will stay back on them,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely something we worked on and it’s encouraging and I just have to try to repeat it over and over.”
What else: SS Tyler Greene did a nice job at top of the lineup with two walks. Porter said when you’re not getting hits you sometimes get anxious, but it was a good sign for him to expand the zone and take his walks. … RHP John Ely, who’s battling for a starting spot, allowed a two-run homer in the fourth before coming back with a clean fifth. … OF Michael Burgess, who was taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, made a nice diving catch in foul territory to end the game. … RHP Josh Fields got on the mound for the first time, closing out the eighth and finishing the Tigers off in the ninth. … OF Robbie Grossman and OF Trevor Crowe each had two-run extra-base hits in the fifth.
What went wrong: Wallace, starting at third base, made a fielding error in the fifth inning that led to a run, but manager Bo Porter shrugged it off: “I think he knocked in more than he let in.”… Minor League IF Nolan Fontana had a throwing error.
What they said: “From a hitter standpoint, this is the time of year that you really want to work on being on time with the fastball. Castro laid out some great swings, [Rick] Ankiel laid out some good swings, Wallace swung the bat well today. From a pitching standpoint, our pitchers did a great job, especially the starters [Erik] Bedard and Ely, of locating their fastballs well,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.
Here’s Erik Bedard, Brett Wallace, Jason Castro and Bo Porter on the game:
What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired from the Rockies in a trade for Wilton Lopez in December, will make his first start of the season for the Astros when they travel to Dunedin, Fla., to meet the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Wednesday. He was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 23 games (20 starts) for Colorado last year.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to get an MRI and see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.
Links of the day: Jose Martinez, who was MVP at Double-A Corpus Christi last year, has overcame an unthinkable tragedy and has taken advantage of his second chance with the Astros. Here’s video of Martinez talking about his struggles:
The Astros notebook has Ambriz and Stassi talking about their injuries, prospects Nolan Fontana and Mike Foltynewicz on their appearance on the spring roster, Wallace on his comfort level at third base, plus much more.
The day in photos