Jose Altuve must like hitting leadoff.
After being given the job full-time this season, Houston's second baseman bunted twice, singling once as Houston scored five runs in the first two innings. Altuve talked to the media afterwards about wanting to bunt more this season.
Altuve plans to bunt more this season and believes increase in walks will occur over time. Trying to be more disciplined at plate. #Astros— Brian T. Smith (@ChronAstros) March 21, 2013
Last season, Altuve worked on taking more walks. While he improved on his rookie season in that regard, he still was not a walk machine. I'm sure the Astros want him to get on base more and have stressed that to him, but being able to bunt for base hits seems like a nice compromise.
Though it ended in a flyout, another Altuve bat showed how dangerous Houston could be with a good hitter in that top spot. Atluve's flyout in the third put another run on the board for the Astros and was a nice piece of hitting, from what the radio guys said.
After Altuve, the story of the game was Carlos Pena's bat waking up, as he crushed a home run in the first and then followed up with another RBI single later to give him three RBIs for the game. That raised Pena's meaningless spring average to .306.
Altuve also stole his first base of the spring before Pena hit his home run. Tyler Greene added his third steal. Other offensive players of note include J.D. Martinez, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a caught stealing and Brandon Barnes, who was 1 for 2 with a double.
Alex White got the start and pitched well enough at first. The right-hander breezed through his first two innings before giving up a home run to Collin Cowgill in the top of the third. He retired the side in order in the top of the fourth, but gave up a third run on Brian Bixler's triple in the top of the fifth.
White allowed seven hits and three runs while walking one and striking out three in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Left-hander Kevin Chapman took the loss, giving up five hits and four runs in 2/3 of an inning. He also struck out one, but gave up three consecutive hits to erase a 5-3 Astros lead. Chapman's meaningless spring ERA is now 12.60 and he lost for the first time this spring.