Facing a major-league caliber lineup, Lance McCullers flashed All-Star stuff against the Washington Nationals today in Spring Training action. He went four innings, mixing a variety of breaking balls, blanking the Nats, while whiffing six and walking none. He allowed three hits, two were swinging bunt infield hits by Juan Soto. His command and control were impressive, requiring only 35 pitches in his four innings.
Astros starting position players broke their Spring Training home run drought, getting a two-run dinger from Carlos Correa scoring Kyle Tucker in the fourth and a solo dinger from Yuli Gurriel in the sixth.
The Astros added two runs in the eighth When Aledmys Diaz pushed a grounder up the middle with two outs, scoring Jeremy Pena, who had walked earlier in the inning. Alex DeGoti added another with a double to left, scoring Steven Souza, who also walked.
The Astros bullpen continued where McCullers left off.
Cristian Javier got his first action back from COVID quarantine, pitching a scoreless fifth, helped by a Myles Straw to Yuli Gurriel double play. Steve Cishek, signed to a minor league contract and fighting for a roster spot, relieved Javier and also impressed, getting a perfect sixth inning with three K’s. Last year’s surprise success story, Brooks Raley dominated the seventh inning with a perfect frame and one K.
Another quarantine escapee, Enoli Paredes, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, notching a scoreless inning with an inning-ending strikeout.
Nats starter Stephen Strasbourg also flashed mid-season stuff against the Astros, going 2.1 scoreless innings with four K’s and only one hit. However, he left the game with an apparent leg injury.
Hector Velazquez closed the ninth for the Astros to preserve the Astros' shutout.