A Strong Start to Spring Training
Yes, I do understand. It was only one game. But aside from actually having a real game against an opponent to follow, it is a sign that baseball season is truly back. We are talking about an actual contest, even if it was a Spring Training game.
(Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
More importantly, the Astros started the season off right with an 8-3 road victory over the Phillies. Without getting too ahead of ourselves, there are a few things that I feel are important to take away from this game.
Four stolen bases. Bo Porter did not waste any time showing that he will be an aggressive manager. This is exactly what the Astros are going to need to do in order to compete in the AL West. Justin Maxwell, Trevor Crowe, Tyler Greene, and J.D. Martinez each stole a base. Martinez’s was important because it led to his being driven in by Rule 5 draftee Nate Freiman. Greene’s stolen base was also a good sign as he is battling for the lead off role.
Brandon Barnes had a nice debut as he carried over positive momentum from his stint in Winter Ball. Barnes not only hit a home run, but he also threw a runner out at home plate. Barnes could prove to play a big role in the outfield this season as he is the best defensive option the Astros have. The power was also a good sign.
It is hard to accurately judge pitchers on their spring performance. Especially veteran pitchers trying to work on things knowing their roles are set. Lucas Harrell did give up 2 runs in 2 innings, allowing 5 baserunners, and striking out no one. There is still a lot of baseball left to play, so there is no reason to overreact here.
On the bright side, Jarred Cosart certainly looked good. Cosart pitched two innings without allowing a baserunner, and struck out one. Again, it is only one spring outing, so it is way too early to say he has guaranteed himself a spot on the big league roster.
Two potential members of the Opening Day bullpen, lefty Xavier Cedeno and righty Sam Demel, both got off on the right foot. They each pitched an inning, striking out a batter each, and Demel allowed one hit.
Of all the young players the Astros have in camp, Freiman is perhaps the player for whom this spring is most important. The slugging first baseman drove in Martinez with an RBI single and later had an RBI groundout to score Jake Elmore.
Robbie Grossman, who we might see in Houston later this season had an RBI single to drive in Barnes and then doubled in Brandon Laird in the 9th inning for Houston’s final run. Jimmy Paredes, Carlos Corporan, and Marwin Gonzalez also drove in runs for the Astros.
The Astros are facing the Mets on Sunday as Bud Norris takes the hill in his spring debut.