In The Field
Defensively, the Astros played error free ball. They bobbled a few balls on the infield but were able to stay with them and still get outs. Most of the bounces went their way tonight. One example of the gracious bounces of the ball tonight is found in the ninth. MILB described the play this way:
Dutch Deol flies into a force out, right fielder Ariel Ovando to shortstop James Howick. Gerwuins Velazco out at 2nd. Dutch Deol to 1st.Here is what really happened. Deol hit a high pop in the grass in shallow right field. Ovando is coming in and Blasik is going out. Second baseman Brian Blasik appears to have a bead on the ball but hears Ovando calling him off. Ovando is right behind Blasik and appears he has decided to give way the the second baseman. Both gave up at the same time and the ball dropped off of Ovando's glove. The runner at first had frozen on the fly and had no chance to get to second on the play. So that accounts for the unusual 9-6 put out on the fielders choice.
The Astros also benefited from a botched run down and a bad throw to start a double play that pulled the SS off second and allowed both runners to be safe. So Johnson City helped.
On The Mound
Pitching wise, Francis Ramirez had a solid start. My unofficial pitch count for him was 85 pitches in five innings. The only really hard hit ball off of him was the double hit by Schaffer. Everything else were dinks and dunks. The bullpen came in and threw strikes. Zachary Hardoin gave up a lead off HR Schaffer but settled down nicely after that. In his two innings, he threw 27 pitches; with 17 of those counting as strkes. The next pitcher, Christian Garcia was all around the plate as well, maybe too much as three singles loaded the bases. However he worked his way out of the game. Garcia came in as a substitution was made at catcher. I was reminded that it is early in the season as there were several visits between Christian Moronta and Garcia to confer about being on the same page. Michael Dimock closed it out with a solid ninth.
At The Plate
At the plate the G-Stros were hitting hard line drives all over the field.
Jean Batista went five for six. All of his hits were singles but four of the five were hard hit balls.
Ariel Ovando is crushing the ball. He went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a triple.He hit the ball to all fields. He hit a hard line drive down the right field line for a double, a ball off the left field wall for a double and a ball to deep center for a triple. His strike out late in the game was due to some very hard swings at balls low in the zone. I think he was going for the home run to complete the cycle. That concerns me a little but I am enjoying seeing the power. Last year, he had 15 extra base hits in 44 games. This year, he already has four in the first three games.
James Howick went 4 for 5 with a double. He hit a few balls hard but also had some that found holes. Every good hitter has the ability to find the holes.
The Astros won the opening series over the Cardinals and now head to Kingport for the weekend. Kingsport is young but talent rich due to the fact they have no Gulf Coast League team this season. It will be interesting to see how that series goes.