The Astros jumped out to an early lead, scoring four runs in the first inning, but some poor pitching performances and great hitting from Anthony Rendon paved the way for a Nationals comeback-victory. With the loss, the Astros fall to 7-9 this Spring.
Below I've broken down some of the key individual performances from today's game. There was some good, some bad, and not nearly enough Ezequiel Astacio. Even though the Astros lost, we can all take solace in the fact that we have a new Pope and Jonathan Villar hasn't punched anything – including a baseball, with a bat – in quite some time!
- Jose Altuve went 3-5 with a double, although his double can be attributed to his aggressive base-running. He also grounded into a double play.
- Carlos Pena went 1-2, with an RBI double in which he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple.
- Brandon Laird almost went deep in his first at-bat, then DID go deep in his second at-bat. He's batting .375 with three bombs this spring. The Astros may be forced to make a roster spot for him.
- Chris Carter was 1-3 with two strikeouts and walk. He now has 12 strikeouts in 34 at-bats this spring. His single was a jam-shot blooper.
- Fernando Martinez continued his hot spring with an RBI single. He finished 1-2 on the day.
- Justin Maxwell finished 1-2 with a mammouth RBI triple.
- Jon Villar had a forgettable first at-bat, swinging and missing at the first two pitches, before lining out to first. He flew out in his second AB.
- Jordan Lyles was knocked around again. In three innings, he allowed three runs and six hits. He walked none and struck out two. Sadly, today's performance was Lyles best of the Spring. He didn't allow a home run, and although he gave up a lot of hits, he didn't necessarily get hit "hard" – there were a lot grounders. He induced five groundball outs and two flyball outs.
- Erik Bedard pitched for the first time since his strained ass cheek, and pitched well. He allowed a lead-off double to Anthony Rendon and walked the next batter. With two on, none out, struck out the next three batters swinging. As always, health is the main concern with Bedard.
- Chia-Jen Lo continued his impressive spring. He allowed a hit and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief. His spring stats are as follows: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks. He's now tied with Phil Humber for the team-lead in strikeouts. If Lo can remain healthy, there's a good chance he's a major contributor to the back end of the Astros bullpen – darkhorse closer candidate.
- Dallas Keuchel pitched a busy first inning, allowing a few hits, but battling his way out of it unscathed. He wasn't so lucky in his second inning of work, when he allowed three runs, capped off by a two-run bomb by Anthony Rendon. Keuchel finished with 2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 K. Side note: Rendon was 4-5 with a 2B, HR, 3 RBIs.
- Hector Ambriz pitched a very underwhelming inning.
- Josh Fields had a rough ninth inning, but didn't get any help from his defense. Fields pitch put in play was a groundball to Brandon Laird – a play he should have made – that went underneath his glove, and was ruled a double. He then allowed an RBI double, struck out a batter swinging, induced a weak groundball to the mound, allowed an RBI single to Micah Owings, and got a pop out to first.
Player Of The Game: Jose Altuve
Next Up: When's the Regular Season?