Homers and Humber key Astros win


The Astros got back in the win column today with a 9-4 victory over the Marlins in Jupiter. Astros hitters jumped all over Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, scoring three runs in each of the first two innings. Much of the damage came on longballs. Houston launched five homers in the game including four off Nolasco.

Jason Castro is congratulated by third base coach Dave Trembley after hitting his third home run of the spring (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Carlos Pena got the scoring started with a 2-run blast off the Marlins starter.  Brett Wallace made it back-to-back jacks when he took Nolasco deep on the very next pitch. Matt Dominguez joined the homerun barrage in the second inning and Jason Castro launched his third of the spring in the third. Castro was 3 for 3 on the day, raising his spring average to an even .500.

After Nolasco departed, Chris Carter welcomed Mitch Talbot to the mound by blasting the ‘Stros fifth homer of the game. It was Carter’s second longball of the spring.

Bud Norris kept the Marlins off the board for the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third. Norris lasted a total of 3 & 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out one.

Philip Humber had another impressive outing, pitching five scoreless innings of relief. Humber allowed only one hit and struck out four. Humber looks to have cemented a spot in the Astros starting rotation. The Rice University product is looking to bounce back from last year’s poor second half that resulted in him being waived by the White Sox. Humber had what appeared to be a breakout season in 2011 when he posted a 1.178 WHIP in 163 innings for Chicago. Then came the perfect game in April of 2012 and it was all downhill after that.

With today’s outing Humber lowered his spring ERA to 1.29. He has allowed only five hits and four walks in 14 innings of work. Tomorrow’s starter, Jordan Lyles, has been the  polar opposite. Lyles has allowed 20 hits in only five innings of work and will need to turn things around in a hurry to regain his grip on a spot in the rotation.

The team is likely to announce more cuts tomorrow and if Jordan’s struggles continue his number may be up. Lyles still has minor league options remaining and sending him to AAA to get his game on track seems like a good idea at this point.