Baseball is back, ladies and gentlemen. The thought of sunny baseball brought warm feelings to Houstonians dealing with 40-degree rain on Thursday afternoon.
Both teams' players and coaches lined up along the chalk line in a rehearsal for the "real" Opening Day just a month away. As some may mock a full Spring Training Opening Day event, local fans and employees of Osceola County Stadium may cherish it a bit more this year round. As Opening Days in Kissimmee appear to be numbered for 31-year old stadium. The Astros could be moving out as soon as 2017 to West Palm Beach with the Nationals.
The all too familiar voices of Robert Ford and Steve Sparks returned to my speakers for the first time this year. They did not disappoint, they were mid-season form already. I would guess if asked, they would tell you they were in the best shape of their lives.
Collin McHugh and Cliff Lee were the starters for today's game, both were sharp in their outings. McHugh struck out three of the seven batters he faced. His lone blemish was a four-pitch walk to second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Cliff Lee gave up a pair of singles to George Springer and Luis Valbuena, but the lefty wiped both away before any damage was done.
Mark Appel took the mound in the top of the third, and pitched two full innings. Former Longhorn Cameron Rupp lead of the third with a double, but was stranded as Appel retired the next three batters in order. Appel wouldn't be so lucky in the fourth, Domonic Brown and Cody Asche each had a double to score the Phillies' first run of the game. Appel held Philly to one run as he struck out Aaron Athlerr on three-straight called strikes.
Max Stassi singled, moved over to second on a Jonathan Villar sac bunt, and scored on Robbie Grossman line drive to left field to put the first run the board in the third. Luis Valbuena hit the Astros' first home run of Spring Training, putting the Astros in the lead 2-1 through four.
Grossman would add to the score again in the fifth with a solo home run off Phillippe Aumont. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a home run of his own on back-to-back pitches. The Astros lead 3-1 after five innings.
Joe Thatcher, Asher Wojciechowski, and Jake Buchanan pitched around a jam or two but combined for four scoreless innings.
The Astros would spark a two-out rally in the eighth. Andrew Aplin pinch ran for Matt Dominguez after he singled. Aplin stole second and scored on a Alex Presley single. Jon Singleton followed with a double over former Astro Brian Bogusevic's head, scoring Presley.
Richmond/Rosenberg product Brady Rodgers came in to pitch the ninth for Houston. He recorded one out but then loaded the bases with two singles and fielder's choice. Second Baseman Chris Nelson drove home a run with a sac fly. Domonic Brown hit a ball right off of Rodgers' leg to drive in a second run. Rodgers would leave the game after the play.
Jason Stoffel came in and was able to get the final out, retiring Darin Mastroianni.
- Game one is in the books, on one was seriously injured (except possibly Brady Rodgers).
Hinch said ball got Brady Rodgers in the calf and he's fine. Hernandez could pitch in a game on the 9th or 10th.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 5, 2015
- Collin McHugh looked sharp in two innings of work.
- Robbie Grossman is off to a fast start (2-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI).
- Spring Training stats lie.