It was bound to happen. The Astros lost their first game of the spring at the hands of the New York Mets, 3-1. While the outcome isn't what one hopes for on a daily basis, there were some positives in the game. Down by two entering the bottom of the ninth, Tony Kemp drew a walk to begin the frame, and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher when he attempted to steal second with one out. Jon Kemmer also drew a walk, and was subbed out for the speedy Andrew Aplin, who took second on defensive indifference after Matt Duffy was called out on strikes. With two out and two candidates for the first base job already having k'd, Jonathan Singleton had a chance to tie the game with his first base hit of the season and take a leg up on his own personal competition. But alas, he too struck out, ending the game.
Through the first three games Singleton is 0-for-6 with four strikeouts, while superstar prospect A.J. Reed is just 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. Tyler White, the sleeper pick to land the first base job to begin the season, is 1-for-7 with three strikeouts and zero walks. White's calling card throughout his professional career has been his eye at the plate; accruing more walks that strikeouts in three seasons. The one candidate that has produced has been Preston Tucker, who is 1-for-5 in his own right, but that one hit was a solo blast on Friday against the Cardinals. It's still early, and at this point in camp the pitchers are supposed to be ahead of the hitters, so we won't have a clear front runner for at least a couple of weeks. The sample size we're working with is just too small at this point.
The other major takeaway from Saturday's game was the performance of Ken Giles in his first game action with the Astros. He went one inning, allowing a double and a triple on the first two pitches he threw. The Mets would add a second run to their total on a Michael Conforto sac-fly later in the inning. Giles' final line: 1 inning, 3 hits, 1 walk, 2 earned. The Mets would add a run in the ninth off offseason waiver claim Danny Reynolds.
Collin McHugh got the start for Houston and continued the run of good starting performances, allowing just one hit over his two innings on the mound. The other standout of the day was Chris Devenski, who allowed two hits over two innings while striking out four. George Springer continued his hot hand at the plate with a ground-rule double in his first at-bat. He would come around to score on a RBI single from Colin Moran. Springer is now 3-for-3 with three doubles and a walk.
The Astros will have split-squad matchups on Sunday with Scott Feldman set to take on the Blue Jays at home while Brad Peacock will face the Pirates on the road. This is an opportunity for some extended playing time for a number of players on the roster and is an excellent chance for someone to start staking their claim towards one of the few available roster spots.