Where, oh where has all the POWA gone? A couple days ago you couldn't stop the Astros from torching balls over the fence. Now, you'd be hard pressed to see more than a couple doubles in the box score. Let's go down a mystical rabbit hole for a quick moment to find out where this troubling trend of singles instead of ALL THE HOMERS started, shall we?
In my recap yesterday, I briefly mentioned Jon Kemmer's encounter with a ghostly leprechaun. However, this apparently wasn't the first time the ghost of Jon's past was mentioned this spring. According to fellow TCB commentator jeffs_52, Robert Ford brought up the "lucky" apparition during the split squad game against the Blue Jays. One game later, the Astros struggled their way to a 1-0 win against the Yankees. Coincidence? Yeah, right!
So clearly someone, or something, stole our lucky POWA charms. Perhaps the leprechaun didn't like all the media attention he was receiving from the power broadcasting team of Ford and Sparks, and decided to teach the Astros a lesson. What that lesson exactly is, I don't know, but this sudden power outage is almost certainly the work of an upset leprechaun ghost. Perhaps a quick prayer to Jobu is in order...
Now that I've thoroughly convinced you all that the ghost curse is real, we can move on to the recap of today's game against the Nationals. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer faced off on the mound as today's starting pitchers. Fister pitched an okay game, throwing three innings and allowing one run on two hits while walking three and striking out three.
The Astros were fortunate to touch up Scherzer early and end his day sooner than expected. Thanks to the bats of Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus the Astros were able to scrounge up a run in the first inning. AJ Reed put together a marvelous 13 pitch at bat that unfortunately ended in a fielder's choice out at home with the bases loaded. This was a great showing by Reed and perfectly displayed his already mature approach at the plate, even if it ended in a less than ideal outcome.
Correa reminded everyone why he was the first overall pick and Rookie of the Year with some outstanding defense at shortstop. Unfortunately, the pitching wasn't quite as effective as yesterday thanks to the relief corps giving up three earned runs over six innings of work. Ken Giles, Wandy Rodriguez and Tony Sipp each gave up one run apiece, although Wandy did so over three innings compared to the one inning each for Giles and Sipp.
Giles and Sipp in particular were rather erratic in their appearances. Giles continued to struggle with his control early, tossing pitches high and allowing solid contact against his fastball. However, his breaking ball was stunning and helped him reel it in after giving up a run. Sipp struggled to find the zone as well, missing low on most occasions. It's not something that should concern you yet, but it is something to keep an eye on as we advance through Spring Training.
Perhaps the curse of the leprechaun was broken when Derek Fisher smoked a ball over the right field fence to bring the Astros within one run in the 7th inning. Unfortunately, the scoring opportunities for the Astros stopped there, and Washington would respond with a run in the 8th inning to complete the scoring for the day at 4-2 in the Nationals' favor.
Remember, Spring Training is an opportunity for everyone to work on something specific and I have a feeling that the Astros are slowly backing away from an extreme power approach. Springer in particular isn't taking absurdly wild cuts at every at bat, and it's working in his favor. A more patient, contact driven approach will help this team more than swinging for the fences every at bat. I'm excited to see how the team approaches their at bats this season.
Next up for the Astros is a date with former National League rivals the Atlanta Braves. Dallas Keuchel will make his first appearance of the spring against Julio Teheran. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 PM CT.