The Astros got off to a good start versus the Braves on Friday. Jordan Schafer led off by bouncing a ball over first-baseman Freddie Freeman‘s head and hustled into second base with a double. Schafer would score on a Travis Buck single to give Houston an early lead. Wandy Rodriguez took the mound in the bottom of the inning and retired the first two Atlanta hitters on fly balls. Then, all of a sudden, things went downhill. Chipper Jones started a string of three straight singles for the Braves and Jordan Parraz followed with a walk. Jason Heyward then launched a Rodriguez fastball deep over the rightfield wall for a grand slam, giving Atlanta a 5-1 lead.
Rodriguez labored through 3 & 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and seven earned runs. Wandy allowed a second longball in the game to an unlikely source, our old pal Michael Bourn. Rodriguez said his back felt great and he was still working on smoothing out his mechanics. The Astros lefty had not pitched in a game for ten days, throwing a simulated game in his last session. Houston’s projected Opening Day starter says his back injury is no longer a problem, and that is the good news here. In Spring Training the results on the scoreboard take a back to seat to getting into shape, especially for pitchers.
Henry Sosa, David Carpenter. and Jose Valdez followed Rodriguez to the mound and all three held the Braves scoreless. Wesley Wright gave up a pair of runs in his inning of work and the Braves came out on top 9-5. Wright struggled a bit with his control, issuing a walk and uncorking a wild pitch in the inning.
Schafer and Buck continued to pace the offense after teaming up for that first inning run. In his second plate appearance Buck drove a Tommy Hanson offering over the rightfield wall for a solo homerun. Schafer scored again after singling and stealing two bases in the fifth inning. Brett Wallace chipped in with a pair of singles and a nice defensive play at first base. The Astros defense was error-free and Carlos Lee made a couple of good plays as well.