Astros go down 2-1 to the Washington Nationals, but Framber Valdez had a nice showing in his initial audition for the starting rotation.
Framber Valdez and the Astros were back out on the field facing the Nationals after yesterday’s opener ended short due to weather. The Nats took the game by a score of 2-1 with a walk-off run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth. But that won’t take anything away from the nice outing Valdez had in his first spring appearance.
He pitched two scoreless innings inducing three groundouts and struck out three. The only flaw of the day was a walk he issued to Starlin Castro, but that was erased with an inning-ending strikeout. Valdez reached velocities of up to 95 mph and threw 19 strikes in 27 pitches. His three-up, three-down second inning was the only 1-2-3 inning by Astros pitchers today.
Manager Dusty Baker liked what he saw from Valdez and thought he had good command and tempo mentioning that if he’d get behind, he’d step off of the mound and regroup nicely. Baker added the when he throws strikes he has “electric stuff”.
Kent Emanuel came in to pitch in the third and surrendered the first run of the game when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sac fly with runners on first and third. He had a little bit of trouble both innings he pitched giving up four hits and a run.
Ralph Garza, Blake Taylor, Andre Scrubb covered the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings respectively, each allowing baserunners but no damage was done. Ryan Hartman came in and had a nice eighth but may have been a little tired when he returned for the ninth. He walked the first batter up and the runner advanced to second on a groundout. Baker made a visit to the mound and brought in Ronel Blanco to finish it out, but he gave up the walk-off single to end the game.
The Astros bats were somewhat anemic amassing eleven strikeouts against only four hits on the day. Five of those K’s were by Yordan Alvarez (2) and Aledmys Diaz who struck out all three at-bats. Kyle Tucker went 0-3 leaving three runners on base. The four hits of the day consisted of a single by Alvarez and doubles by Nick Tanielu, Drew Ferguson, and Alex De Goti. Tanielu’s and De Goti’s were back-to-back scoring the only run the Astros could muster.
The Astros will be up against Detroit tomorrow with Bryan Abreu getting the start. More starters will be integrated into the game with the entire starting infield of Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman in the lineup. That game will be at 12:05 CST tomorrow at the Tigers facility in Lakeland, Florida.