HOUSTON (AP) Philip Humber and J.A. Happ each had a strong start and a shaky finish Wednesday. Both starting pitchers are looking forward to the regular season, too.J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer and Brian Bogusevic added a solo shot for the Houston Astros, who played the Chicago White Sox to a 5-5 tie on Wednesday in the final exhibition game for both teams.Humber pitched four scoreless innings before Jose Altuve's run-scoring double and Martinez's drive put Houston up 3-2 in the fifth. Humber allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings."Especially early on, I felt like I had my good stuff going and everything was working," he said. "Toward the end, I felt like I was getting a little jumpy and I started rushing my delivery. But overall, I was very pleased with how this spring went."Happ gave up two runs and four hits while walking two in five innings for Houston.Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza hit back-to-back doubles to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fifth."Things were moving and breaking and responding well, and that was a good feeling," Happ said. "It's a good sign, and it feels good to throw strikes and feel good with the pitches."Chicago's Jared Mitchell hit a tying solo homer off Kyle Weiland in the seventh inning. Weiland, who earned a spot in Houston's rotation this spring, allowed a spring-high seven hits with three runs in two innings.Both teams are off Thursday before opening the season Friday. Houston hosts the Colorado Rockies and the White Sox face the Rangers in Arlington.Alexei Ramirez had an RBI triple and Kosuke Fukudome singled in run to help the White Sox take a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.Houston catcher Jason Castro, who returned this spring after missing the entire 2011 season with a knee injury, had two hits. He is happy with his offensive work this spring, but was more excited about the progress he's made behind the plate."We have a few new guys and I've been working on building those relationships with them," he said of the new pitchers. "That was a big thing for me this spring was getting to know them and getting to know their strengths. I think we've learned each other quickly this spring and it'll only get better as the season gets going."Bogusevic's homer came in the sixth, and Chris Johnson doubled and scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.Houston center fielder Jordan Schafer started for the second straight day after missing more than two weeks with a sprained left hand. Schafer, Houston's leadoff hitter who hit .379 this spring, was replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth and looks to be on track to start on Friday.NOTES: The Astros finalized their 25-man roster when RHP Henry Sosa cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City and they purchased the contract of OF Travis Buck. ... The Astros are still hopeful that SS Jed Lowrie will be able to start on Friday. He has been out since March 28 with a strained right thumb, but manager Brad Mills said he has been feeling much better the last couple of days.
In this special bonus episode, we opened up the podcast to our favorite people: you the White Sox fan!
You asked the questions and we answered them!
Who will be the White Sox closer in 2020? Can Avi Garcia be an effective #2 hitter? Who will be the Nicky Delmonico of 2018? Who has been the biggest surprise at spring training? There are questions about Adam Engel, Ryan Cordell, Carson Fulmer, Yoan Moncada, as well as Roger Bossard, Mike Ditka and Rocky Biddle.
We also give away a signed Freddy Garcia baseball from 2005.
Take a listen here or in the embedded playlist below.
As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.
What’s there to know about the Toronto Blue Jays?
They seem to have missed their window.
Living on a lighted stage approaches the unreal, they say. And it did there for the Jays for a while, too, as they made back-to-back trips to the American League Championship Series. Those teams were fun. They hit a lot of homers. They flipped a lot of bats. We all got to watch Geddy Lee keep score on national TV. Good times.
Well, the good times haven’t lasted, and the Jays again seem to be on the outside looking in of an AL East race that figures to feature the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and no one else.
Jays fans have had to say a farewell to kings in the past two offseasons, with two of the biggest engines of those ALCS teams, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, no longer with the team. Encarnacion is entering Year 2 with the Cleveland Indians. Jose Bautista would like to be a working man, but he’s still watching the tumbleweeds roll by on the deserted plains of this offseason’s free-agent market.
Sure, Josh Donaldson is still around, a modern-day warrior with a mean, mean stride and a mean, mean swing, too. The same can be said for Justin Smoak, who teamed with Donaldson to mash a combined 71 homers last season. But are the dipped numbers of Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins and the increasing ages of Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales and Curtis Granderson giving anyone in the Great White North great confidence in this lineup? Even the two imports from the St. Louis Cardinals, Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz, couldn’t reach base at a .300 clip last season.
The best news for the Jays might be what’s going on 60 feet, six inches away from home plate — excuse me, 18.4404 metres from home plate. Marcus Stroman might start the campaign on the disabled list, but he’s still really good after posting a 3.09 ERA last season. J.A. Happ was good last year. Marco Estrada was OK. And the Jays added Jaime Garcia this offseason, who isn’t a blockbuster newcomer, but he managed 129 strikeouts in 157 innings last season while pitching for three different teams.
Is any of that enough for the Jays to compete this season? To get closer to the heart of the AL East race? No probably not, but it’s really up to you to decide. And remember that if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
I’m out of applicable Rush lyrics, so let’s just move this along.
2017 record: 76-86, fourth place in AL East
Offseason additions: Curtis Granderson, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Jaime Garcia, Seung hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, John Axford
Offseason departures: Jose Bautista, Miguel Montero, Darwin Barney, Dominic Leone
X-factor: The Jays had one of baseball's better closers last season in Roberto Osuna. He's had that job for a while now and has racked up 95 saves in his three big league seasons, including 36 and 39 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. His ERA was a career-high 3.38 last season, but he finished more games than any other pitcher in baseball and struck out a career-high 83 batters in 64 innings.
1. Curtis Granderson, LF
2. Devon Travis, 2B
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Russell Martin, C
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Randal Grichuk, RF
8. Kevin Pillar, CF
9. Aledmys Diaz, SS
1. Marcus Stroman
2. J.A. Happ
3. Aaron Sanchez
4. Marco Estrada
5. Jaime Garcia
Prediction: Fourth place in AL East, no playoffs
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