Granted, it has only been two games, but the start of the Astro’s spring looks rather reminiscent to the start of the 2010 season. Production has been the leading suspect for our qualms with this team over the past two years, and posting only three hits with no runs in the second game of spring training is no way to shake our production woes.
There are some signs of hope that you can take away from this game, though. Carlos Lee went 1 for 2 which brings him to a total of three hits on the spring which equates to the number of hits that he had to start off the first nine games of the season last year. There is no doubt that the team’s offense will look to El Caballo to be more active (or just even show up) this season, and if he can walk out of spring training with some confidence in his swing, he can hopefully get the year started on a brighter note than last. Although he had a strikeout, Lee also collect a walk. After having a career low in walks in 2010 with 37, Lee piling up some free passes in the spring is a sign of patience to come in the new year.
Hunter Pence was able to record a triple in the ball game which also gives him a two game hitting streak to start off the spring. Hunter has been consistent over the past three years by putting up 25 homers for three consecutive seasons, but as his hits have increased, his extra base knocks have not. By signing Hall and Barmes to the roster this year, we know that the loss of Kepp and Manzella seizing to start will be covered by these two acquisitions, but more power is going to be needed out of Pence in order for this offense to be somewhat respectable in the long run.
Myers came out, and picked up where he left off. Two innings pitched, a couple of hits given up, and a strike out. What excites me about his short outing is the lack of walks administered. Any time Myers stumbled into a nasty inning, the culprit, more often than not, was walks. If Myers is able to replicate last year’s consistency, then we can at least breathe easy once every five days, and today’s start enabled us to exhale one of those much needed sighs of relief.
The Astro’s bullpen, minus our Let’s-Try-That-Again Closer Lyon, had a phenomenal day. Ryan Rowland-Smith threw a perfect inning of work to start off his career in the brick and sand which would make the competition for the number five spot one worth paying attention. Mark Melancon, Jeff Fulchino, and Gustavo Chacin continued Rowland-Smith’s trend of perfection by completing their own perfect innings while Wesley Wright only allowed one hit in his inning of work. During the post All Star Break stretch of better than .500 baseball, the Astros relied on the success of the bullpen to sustain the quality starts we received from Brett and the rest of the rotation. If the bullpen continues producing effective innings, more weight can be taken off the shoulders of our starters since our bats have turned our pitching staff into a modern day Atlas.
Even though the Braves held us to four batters faced above the minimum and the box score is littered with zeros, there are some positive aspects that can be taken away from today’s game. This team has a lot of holes to fill, but spring is for seeing the patchwork slowly start to weave in.