Dan's Dugout: Houston Steamroller Gains Momentum • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Houston Steamroller Gains Momentum


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Houston Astros are still feeding off the frenzy of their first world championship.

With a 3-1 win here against the St. Louis Cardinals, their former NL Central rivals, the Astros extended their exhibition season mark to 14-5-2, best among the 30 teams.

Star Astros infielders Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman await their turns in the cage
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

With All-Star infielders Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa batting second, third, and fourth against St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, the Astros never really gave the Cards a fighting chance.

Starting pitcher Justin Verlander went five fine innings, yielding the single St. Louis run, and was in command from the start.

He has more strikeouts than innings pitched and looks ready to resume the form that allowed him to go 9-1 with a 1.66 earned run average after joining the Astros in a late-summer swap with the Detroit Tigers.

He’s not the only ace in the Houston rotation. The starters took a composite 1.50 ERA into the Wednesday game at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

St. Louis, which has struggled along at a .500 clip this spring, is now 0-4 against Houston in 2018 spring training.

Justin Verlander mows down St. Louis hitters in Florida Wednesday
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

The Cardinals are in their 21st season at Roger Dean Stadium, 15 minutes up the road from this two-year-old ballpark. Roger Dean and Ballpark of the Palm Beaches are the only fields that host two teams in the 15-member Grapefruit League.

Spring flings:

Unable to shake a spring slump, Yankee rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres lost his roster spot to newly-signed veteran Neil Walker, who played for the Mets last year . . .

Miami’s Opening Day starter, Jose Urena, yielded 11 runs in two innings against St. Louis Tuesday . . .

Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan arrives at Astros camp Saturday as a special instructor . . .

The hot spring of Brandon Nimmo has made it more likely the Mets will trade Juan Lagares, who has attracted interest from several teams . . .

Ichiro, back in Seattle, is the oldest position player in the majors

Among the prominent free agents still unsigned are starting pitcher Alex Cobb and infielder Brandon Phillips . . .

Although Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, 44, is the oldest player on an active roster, he could lose that distinction if Texas keeps pitcher Bartolo Colon, pushing 45 years and lots of pounds.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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