The Houston Astros topped the St. Louis Cardinals by a 3-2 final score in Spring Training action on Saturday.
Luke Berryhill got things started by singing the National Anthem prior to the contest. Berryhill has been healing up through Spring Training to this point, but he’s talented enough to have more than one basket in which to keep his eggs.
Speaking of the Astros catching situation, the Spring Training backup competition was supposed to be between Yainer Diaz and Korey Lee. Berryhill was behind those two, but this CJ Stubbs guy has seemingly come out of nowhere. A 10th round draftee in 2019, Stubbs split last year between the High-A Asheville Tourists and the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. Through today’s game, Stubbs has gone six-for-12 from the plate and provided adequate defense for Houston. Is there a chance that he leapfrogs the two odds-on favorites and opens the season on the parent club 26-man? Time will tell. In the meantime...
In the bottom of the second inning, the Astros struck first with a pair of runs. A Chad Stevens RBI-triple and a Leosdany Molina RBI-double put the Astros on top, 2-0. Houston starter Forrest Whitley, who was very good through the first two frames, allowed the Cardinals a pair in the top of the third to tie things up.
The two clubs went back-and-forth with zeros for every other half inning up until the last. Ronel Blanco came on for 2 2⁄3 innings of hitless relief, walking two and striking out two before Jose Betances came in for the final out.
With the score tied with one out in the bottom of the ninth, J.C. Correa drove Alex McKenna to third base, putting runners on the corners for Shay Whitcomb. Whitcomb sent the “home” crowd home when he drove McKenna home with a sacrifice fly to center field.
During the broadcast, one of the announcers was talking about Dana Brown’s first exposure to Blanco. Reportedly, Brown remarked that Blanco’s delivery was clean and repeatable enough to consider stretching him out. Although I doubt Blanco opens the season in the rotation, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him make a handful of starts when the need calls for it. Did someone say “six-man rotation?”