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Astros 3, Phillies 2: Astros Hit The Ground Running

The first Spring Training game of 2016 is in the books. Doug Fister was brilliant, George Springer looked to be in mid-season form, and some top young minor league players got their first taste of baseball for the spring.

Doug Fister was brilliant in his spring debut with the Astros
Doug Fister was brilliant in his spring debut with the Astros
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Fister made his Houston Astros Spring Training debut today and threw two scoreless innings.

He struck out four Phillies and didn't allow a single ball to be hit to the outfield, unless you count a well-struck but playable ground ball that deflected off Matt Duffy's glove and rolled to Preston Tucker out in left field.  Fister moved his pitches in and out, up and down, and spotted all of his pitches relatively well.  There were instances where his off-speed stuff looked flat out overpowering - and he was particularly adroit at spotting the two seam fastball on the left-handed batter's box side of the plate, with it running back over the corner beautifully.

Speaking of Duffy, he had one shining moment in a game that he'd otherwise surely be happy to forget:

The home run was beautiful, a moonshot that left the stadium entirely after he cleared his hands out and barreled up a pitch in on his belt buckle.  Outside of that, Duffy struck out looking once, walked once, and booted three plays in the field that were all playable, resulting in three different base runners.

George Springer reached base in all three of his plate appearances, going two for two with two doubles and one hit-by-pitch before scoring an unearned run on a laser beam off Tyler White's bat that was thrown poorly for an error on Philly third baseman (and former Angel, whose glove is legendary to Astros fans) Taylor Featherston, who also had a very rough day in the field.

Alex Bregman, A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, and other top prospects all made their spring debuts today.  Of that particular trifecta, Reed had one noteworthy at bat where he shot a single through the six hole in his second at bat and Moran drew a walk and played solidly, if not spectacularly, at third base.

Jon Singleton went 0-3 with a strikeout but made several solid defensive plays.

Michael Feliz was effective but not overly impressive in his spring debut.  Other young Astros pitchers made appearances, including Brendan McCurry (acquired in the Jed Lowrie trade), who allowed the first Phillies run of the game but also got some glove love from Tony Kemp, who made this stellar play:

Unfortunately, Kemp looked over-matched at the plate against submariner Greg Burke, and made a costly error in the ninth inning, letting a ball roll right under his glove, that led to the Phillies' second and final run.  Jandel Gustave managed to shut the door with consistent 96-97 mile per hour heat in spite of surrendering the second run of the game, and the Houston Astros moved to 1-0 in Grapefruit League play to start the spring.

Of interest to Astros fans who enjoy following former Astros players, as I do:

  • Chris Carter - also known as Trogdor - did some burninating today, slamming a home run to right field for the Brewers.
  • Mark Appel allowed one hit, one earned run, and three walks in 1/3 of an inning to start his Phillies career.  His final stat line for the day was two innings pitched, one hit, one run, and four walks against the Yankees in split-squad action for his new team.