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Whitley Struggles In Final Spring Start

Astros top prospect allows 3 runs in 3 innings

March 25, 2019 - 10:20 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- Forrest Whitley allowed three first inning runs in his first start at Minute Maid Park as the Astros won their penultimate spring training game 12-9 over the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night.

Whitley, the Astros first round pick in 2016 and top overall prospect allowed three runs on six hits over three innings, with almost all damage coming in his first inning of work. 

He allowed a single to Adam Frazier after falling behind 3-0 to start the game, and the Pirates took the lead on Starling Marte's double to right centerfield thanks to an error on Astros shortstop Aledmys Diaz. It looked like Whitley might get out of the inning with just the one run allowed after inducing groundouts from Corey Dickerson and Josh Bell, but Francisco hammered a 2-0 fastball over the Crawford Boxes to put the Pirates up 3-0. 

Following the rocky first inning, Whitley recovered to retire the side in order in the second while working around a pair of two-out singles in the third. He walked one and struck out two, tossing 67 pitches, 43 for strikes. 

Will Harris took for the Astros in the fourth, but did so with a lead after the Astros scored seven runs in the third. George Springer brought home the inning's first run when he reached on a fielder's choice. Alex Bregman grounded out with the bases loaded to bring the Astros within a run, and following Michael Brantley's two-run single, Tyler White capped the inning with a 3-run homer. 

Harris held the Pirates off the board in the fourth and Framber Valdez did the same in the fifth, but Pittsburgh tagged Valdez with five runs in the sixth to regain the lead only to see Nick Tanielu answer with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the inning. After Reymin Guduan threw a scoreless seventh inning, Garrett Stubbs and Myles Straw hit back-to-back homers in the Astros have of the inning to make it 12-8.

Josh James allowed a run in the eighth, and after the Astros went down in order in the bottom of the frame, Brandon McCurry worked around a leadoff single for his first save of the spring.

The win improves the Astros spring training record to 18-11. They'll close out the spring Tuesday afternoon against the Pirates before heading to Tampa for the 2019 season opener Thursday.