Villar supplies blast as Astros' relief gets work
Shortstop hits first spring homer after Owens struggles in start vs. Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Curtis Granderson's early-season performance looks anything like this, the Mets will not regret their $60 million investment. Granderson hit two home runs Tuesday in a 6-2 win over the Astros, backing Zack Wheeler's strong performance on the mound.
With the Mets up, 1-0, in the first inning, Granderson launched a two-run homer over the right-field fence to extend the lead. An inning later, he roped a solo shot around the right-field foul pole for his second homer of the game to make it 4-0. Those were Granderson's first home runs as a Met after signing a four-year deal this winter.
"I've had Spring Trainings where I've hit no home runs; I've had Spring Trainings where I've hit a lot of home runs," Granderson said. "I don't think they correlate too much to the course of the season. The main thing is just getting a feel for it."
By the time Granderson's second homer landed, Astros starter Rudy Owens was long gone from the game. The Mets jumped on Owens for three runs in one-third of an inning, with Chris Young's RBI double opening the scoring. Granderson's second blast plated the Mets' fourth run; the fifth came around on Brandon Nimmo's RBI single in the sixth.
First big league ST start & it was an awesome feeling. Rough go but have some stuff to work on and get back after it. Thanks for the support- Rudy Owens (@Rudy_Owens) March 4, 2014
It was more than enough support for Wheeler, who needed only 40 pitches to breeze through three scoreless innings. In his Grapefruit League debut, Wheeler struck out three, walked none and allowed two hits.
Jonathan Villar brought the Astros back within two on a two-run homer off Erik Goeddel in the fifth inning, scoring L.J. Hoes. But Houston could not complete the comeback. After Mets reliever Vic Black walked the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh, Jeff Walters coaxed a first-pitch groundout of Leo Heras to thwart Houston's most promising rally.
For Granderson, the power-charged victory was an indication that his swing is on the right track after missing most of last season with two freak injuries.
"I'm trying to figure it out," Granderson said. "I'm still inconsistent. We know it's there. Now it's a matter of repeating it, and we're trying to do that all day long. Once we get that going, then we know we're feeling good. But we're still taking baby steps to get to that point."
Up next: The Astros' starting rotation turns over Wednesday, when Lucas Harrell makes his second start of the spring, facing the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT (live on MLB.TV) at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla. Harrell, who's trying to rebound from his 2013 campaign, started and allowed one hit and one run in two innings his first time up this spring. He did walk four batters, including three in the first inning, before showing much better control in his second frame.