Hellboy vs the ‘Stros: Jeremy Hellickson got ahead in the count and picked up three fly ball outs in a quick, 10-pitch bottom of the first inning this afternoon in West Palm Beach, as the Washington Nationals played the role of the away team for their matchup with the Houston Astros.
Hellickson went to a full count and missed with a sinker inside to Carlos Correa, issuing a one-out walk to the Astros’ infielder in the home half of the second, but he popped Yuli Gurriel out for out No. 2 and his fifth fly ball out, then dropped a 77 mph 0-2 curveball on Aledmys Diaz to get a swinging K and the final out of a 16-pitch frame, 26 total after two.
Jake Marisnick battled after falling behind 0-2 in his one-out at bat in the third, and hit a 2-2 fastball inside for a broken-bat single to short-center, and the Astros’ first hit. Marisnick was erased from the basepaths in the next at bat, however, when George Springer’s grounder to third started an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP. 14-pitch frame, 40 pitches total.
Hellickson gave up a two-out hit by Michael Brantley, who took third base on a ground-rule double off Carlos Correa’s bat, but he popped Yuli Gurriel out to end a 17-pitch inning at 57 pitches overall.
Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 57 P, 2/6 GO/FO.
Kids Run The Bases: Luis Garcia (18) and Victor Robles (21) hit leadoff and one-out singles, respectively, off Astros’ starter Wade Miley in the top of the third inning, giving Wilmer Difo an RBI opportunity with runners on the corners in his second at bat (after he’d singled the first time up), which the infielder cashed in with a grounder to third base that Alex Bregman fielded before bouncing the throw to second base, E:5, 1-0.
Adrian Sanchez walked with one down in the fourth, stole second base, and scored one out later, after Miley was replaced by Ryan Pressly, on an RBI single to center by Luis Garcia (2 for 2), 2-0.
Spencer Kieboom followed with an RBI double that brought Garcia around, 3-0.
Luis Garcia drove Andrew Stevenson in on a two-out single to left field in the top of the sixth, 4-0.
Bullpen Action: Justin Miller took the mound in the fifth, making his second outing of the Spring after dealing with a lower back issues over the past few weeks. Jake Marisnick hit a fly out to center with two down that Victor Robles lost in the sun, turning his head at the last second to avoid getting hit by the ball which bounced off the track and over the wall.
Miller, whose fastball sat 92-94, popped George Springer up to end a scoreless inning of work.
Vidal Nuño, who might be the prime beneficiary of the Nationals’ decision to release lefty Sammy Solis, worked around a leadoff single and two-out walk, striking out AJ Reed for a scoreless inning of work in the bottom of sixth.
Wilmer Difo was 2 for 4 on the day after a one-out double in the top of the seventh, and Jake Noll walked in the next at bat against Astros’ lefty Kent Emanuel. Difo scored on a double off Carter Kieboom’s bat, and Noll came in on a grounder to short by Andrew Stevenson, 6-0.
Jimmy Cordero was throwing high 90s heat in the bottom of the seventh, but he gave up two runs on back-to-back-to-back-to-back, two-out hits, including three straight doubles, which made it a 6-3 game.
Kyle Barraclough picked up two Ks in a scoreless bottom of the eighth, working around a two-out single.
Trevor Rosenthal got the ninth inning and struggled, hitting a batter and giving up back-to-back, one-out hits as the Astros cut into the lead, 6-4, and pushed the reliever into the 20s in terms of pitch count. He got a strikeout with his 26th pitch, a fastball to Max Stassi, and got the final out on his 32nd pitch of the inning. Ballgame.