The Astros did not field a single regular-season starter in today's Spring Training game, the first of the season. In fact, it’s possible that out of the entire lineup not a single position player who saw action today will play even one major league inning this year.
The Cardinals fielded a similar lineup, and their minor leaguers beat our minor leaguers 4-2, mostly taking advantage of Astros pitcher J. P. France, who allowed two runs in the third inning and two in the fourth on the strength of an Andrew Knizer home run.
There was one and only one big storyline from this game: the return to the mound of a non-minor leaguer, Justin Verlander. Heard of him?
After two years of inactivity and Tommy John surgery, Verlander threw two scoreless, hitless innings with two strikeouts and a walk.
The real cause for hope was not that he mowed down the Cardinals’ scrubs, but that he hit 96 MPH on the radar gun in his first inning back from surgery. His control was just a bit off, but getting tuned up is what Spring Training is for.
But it appears that Verlander’s arm is healthy and that’s all that matters on this fine day.
Astros play tomorrow at 12:05 CDT against the Marlins.