Gonzales impresses in Cardinals' victory over Astros
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Marco Gonzales began his bid to become the fifth starter for the St. Louis Cardinals by pitching two shutout innings Friday in a 5-2 win over the Astros.
Gonzales gave up one hit and one walk. He went 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 games for the NL Central champions last year, starting five times.
''The most important thing was that the ball was feeling good out of my hand,'' Gonzales said. ''I was just trying to get outs in the least amount of pitches.''
On Thursday, Carlos Martinez threw two perfect innings as he tries to win that fifth spot in the Cardinals' rotation.
Jason Heyward singled and stole a base for St. Louis.
Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer allowed one earned run and four hits in two innings. He's slated for the fourth spot in the rotation.
''I came in a little bit more prepared this year,'' he said. ''I would say the last couple springs I got off to a little rough start in spring training. Came in prepared, and today I felt good for the first outing.''
There was a pregame moment of silence for Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals rookie who was killed in a car crash last October, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell, who died from cancer in December.
Cardinals minor leaguer Tommy Pham went 4 for 4. He became the first St. Louis player to get four hits in a spring training game since Taveras in 2013.
Pham, an outfield prospect who had been part of Cardinals' spring training for the past several years, had been hitless in major league spring training at-bats dating to 2009.
Pham, who turns 27, didn't know about Taveras' four-hit performance until this game ended.
''It's a coincidence,'' Pham said. ''As a friend, I'm happy to have done that.''
Pham was Taveras' teammate for parts of three minor league seasons. Pham said focusing on baseball is allowing him to move past the death of his friend.
''The Oscar Taveras incident is a tragedy but now, everybody has their own pace,'' Pham said. ''You kind of get over it and you move on in life.''
Pham has a history of injuries and is considered a long shot to make the club out of spring.
''I do know there is an outfield job open,'' Pham said. ''Knowing that, I'm going to try to do my best to show the team that I can help the team out.''
Astros: Dallas Keuchel gets his first start of the spring on Saturday, facing the New York Yankees.
Cardinals: Jaime Garcia, the third member of the trio battling for the fifth spot in the Cardinals' rotation, will get his first start on Saturday at Washington. St. Louis announced that Lance Lynn will start on Sunday and Michael Wacha gets the ball on Monday.
St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright didn't experience any setbacks following Thursday's bullpen session. The big right-hander is expected to face live batters for the first time this spring during a bullpen session on Sunday. Wainwright felt an abdominal strain during a weightlifting workout shortly after the Cardinals pitchers and catchers reported.
IN THE LINEUP
Former St. Louis star Willie McGee arrived at camp as a guest instructor on Friday and presented the starting lineup prior to the game.
''He doesn't want to be seen or talked about or made a big deal of, but it's like I told the guys this morning, too bad because we are going to make a big deal about it,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''When you draw up how to go about being a pro, Willie McGee is a really good one to model yourself after.''
Houston 2B Jose Altuve and SS Jed Lowrie will play their first Grapefruit League games on Saturday.
Cardinals: St. Louis will leave Roger Dean Stadium for the first time this spring, heading to Viera where Washington is set to start Stephen Strasburg.