For the second time in less than 24 hours the Astros scored in their final at-bat to secure a victory. Enerio Del Rosario gave up a pair of runs in the top of the tenth to put the Astros in a hole. Then Brian Bixler provided the fireworks with a 3-run walkoff homer off Phillies lefty Jeremy Horst. Bixler is now hitting .375 and making a push to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster as a backup infielder. The versatile Bixler is an interesting commodity for the Astros. A natural shortstop, Bixler can also play all over the outfield as well as 2B & 3B.
Bixler is also a speedy base-runner, which should aid his cause as Brad Mills and Jeff Luhnow look to pare down the roster. With the possible exception of Rule 5 pick Marwin Gonzalez, Bixler is the best defensive SS in camp. But Gonzalez has looked overmatched at the plate this spring and, given Bixler’s success, his days with the team could be numbered. Gonzalez survived the first round of cuts today, as did fellow Rule 5 pick Rhiner Cruz. The Astros will wait as long as possible to make a decision on both of the youngsters. Cruz had another rough outing today, allowing two hits and a walk while retiring only one batter. Cruz also hit Kevin Frandsen with a pitch in today’s game.
Six players were sent to the Astros minor league camp today. Pitchers Jorge De Leon and Arcenio Leon were optioned to the minors and both remain on the 40-man roster. Prospects Delino DeShields, George Springer, and Jonathan Villar are minor leaguers who do not count toward the 40-man total. Henry Villar already went through waivers during the off-season and was re-signed to a minor league contract. None of the six were expected to make the team out of Spring Training, so the news of their demotion is no surprise.
Rotation candidates Livan Hernandez and Lucas Harrell got their work in today without incident. Angel Sanchez played shortstop and went 2-3 and appears to be recovered from the back soreness that had sidelined him earlier. The Astros go up against Lance Lynn and the Cardinals tomorrow at noon.