Houston Astros second baseman Joe Thurston throws the ball to second for an out in the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Astros Record: 11-12
This was a less than scintillating performance by the Astros---but at least it was just a spring game.
The offense was lackluster. Chris Johnson, though, continued his hot hitting this spring, putting the Astros on the board in the 2d inniing with a solo HR off the Nats' Lannan.. Late in the game, minor leaguer Brandon Barnes hit a 2 run HR. On the day, the Astros had 6 hits, but several of them were of the infield or flare variety, meaning that not much was hit hard, beyond the Johnson and Barnes' shots. The top of the lineup--Bixler, Altuve, Wallace, and J.D. Martinez--was particularly silent, with the first three at 0 for 4 each and Martinez at 0 for 3. The Astros had only walk (Chris Snyder) on the day.
Jordan Lyles had a so-so game as the starting pitcher. He started off the first inning seemingly in control. He threw strikes through most of the game, but the downside is that he was also somewhat hittable. He gave up 8 hits in 4.2 innings. He also had 5 Ks, and 1 BB, which is fine. A few of the hits were of the unlucky variety, but several also were well hit. OremLK noted in the game thread that the Nats seemed to be teeing off on his first pitch; maybe they realized that he was going to throw them a hittable strike to get ahead. Because of an error, only 3 of the 5 runs he gave up were earned. Surprisingly Kevin Chapman, the AA reliever in the Royals trade, was brought in to relieve Lyles with a runner on base, a run in, and 2 outs. Chapman was rudely greeted by a HR from Bernadino. He got out of the inning with a pop up. He had a 3-0 count on the HR, and may have learned the lesson that you can't get behind in the count to major league hitters. Reportedly he was throwing 94 mph. Rule 5 reliever Rhiner Cruz had a clean inning, and may have made the decision on keeping him tougher. Fernando Rodriguez also had a 3 up, 3 down inning. Brett Myers gave up a run in his inning of work, but it seemed like he may have suffered from bad luck or less than stellar defense, hard to say which, on the 2 hits he allowed.
This was another game with rough fielding, and that may have affected some of the strike throwing Astros' pitchers. Chris Johnson committed an error with runners on base and two outs, which was particularly costly. The Nats had a number of bloop singles between the infield and outfield. On at least one occasion, the broadcasters thought that Bixler and Marwin Gonzalez may have misjudged who would get the fly ball. It was just one of those games, apparently.