New York at Houston

W: S. Demel (1-0) L: S. Greene (0-1) S: S. Escalona (1)
HR: NYY - M. Mesa (1)   HOU - R. Ankiel (1),B. Laird (1)

Astros 7, Yankees 6


KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Rick Ankiel is off to a hot start in his bid to earn a job with the Houston Astros.

Ankiel singled in the third inning and homered in the fifth off Mike O'Brien in the Houston Astros' 7-6 win over a New York Yankees' split squad on Thursday.

The 33-year-old ex-pitcher is 6 for 9 with a double, triple and home run.

"I'm sure I'll have dips," Ankiel said. "I don't think I can keep at the pace I'm going, but it's really not about that. What I'm looking for is trying to see the ball and get good pitches to hit. The results you can't control, but I can control which pitches I swing at."

Ankiel hit .228 in 68 games and 158 at-bats with the Washington Nationals last season.

"It feels great," he said. "I feel like I'm seeing it great right now, for where we're at, and I just hope to continue on the path we're on and get better each day."

Ankiel agreed in January to a minor league contract. If he's added to the 40-man roster, he would get a $750,000, one-year deal and the chance to earn $775,000 more based on plate appearances.

"He's off to a tremendous start. He's a pro's pro," new Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's going to be a great teammate. He's going to add veteran leadership in the clubhouse, and he's an outfielder who can change the game with one swing, and he can pay all three outfield positions."

Ankiel would rather be on this kind of roll a month from now.

"Later in camp I think you'll start seeing more cutters and breaking stuff," he said. "It might be just as important to get at bats later on as it is now. Really just being able to hit the heater right now is what I'm working on, and the adjusting will come later."

Brandon Laird followed Ankiel's home run an inning later with a grand slam off loser Shane Greene.

Melky Mesa's three-run run homer off Ross Seaton in the sixth inning had given the Yankees a 5-1 lead after RBI singles by Zoilo Altmonte and Matt Diaz.

Harrell was efficient in his second spring start, giving up three singles and getting two double plays.

The 28-year-old right-hander is coming off a season in which he went 11-11 in 32 starts, no small achievement on a team that lost 107 games.

"I look at it as I pitched in 30-something games last year and I think we won 18 of my starts," he said. "More important then getting the win is the team gets the win, and I give them a chance to win, keep the game close. If I get a win it's just the cherry-on-top type of thing."

Sam Demel got the win for the Astros.

The 22-year-old Marshall pitched to the minimum nine batters in his three innings, striking out three while Francisco Cervelli threw out two runners attempting to steal.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

R. Ankiel
AB 2
R 1
H 2
HR 1
New York

M. Mesa
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

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New York Yankees
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    Walter Ibarra, PR-2B2100002 .429
Zoilo Almonte, RF3121001 .400
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    Ramon Flores, PR-LF1100011 .000
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    Austin Romine, C1000001 .250
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    Kevin Mahoney, 3B2000010 .000
Luke Murton, 1B1100010 .250
    Greg Bird, 1B2000000 .250
J.R. Murphy, DH2000001 .400
   a- Francisco Arcia, PH-DH20200001.000
a-singled for Murphy in the 7th
3B - Tyler Austin (1, Oberholtzer)
HR - Melky Mesa (1, Demel)
RBI - Zoilo Almonte (3), Matt Diaz (1), Melky Mesa 3 (3), Adonis Garcia (1)
2-OUT RBI - Zoilo Almonte (1), Matt Diaz (1), Melky Mesa 3 (3), Adonis Garcia (1)
Team LOB - 5
E - Eduardo Nunez (1, Throwing)
New York Yankees
Brett Marshall 3100030 1.80
Dellin Betances 1000220 0.00
Michael O'Brien 1.1333111 19.29
Shane Greene (BS,1; L,0-1) 0.1344201 27.00
Shaeffer Hall 1.1100110 0.00
Kelvin Perez 1100010 0.00
HBP - Altuve (by Dellin Betances), Martinez (by Shane Greene)
WP - Dellin Betances (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Brett Marshall 17-15, Dellin Betances 16-7, Michael O'Brien 17-10, Shane Greene 14-5, Shaeffer Hall 11-7, Kelvin Perez 6-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brett Marshall 4-1, Michael O'Brien 3-0, Shaeffer Hall 1-2
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Justin Maxwell, CF3000013 .182
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Carlos Pena, 1B3010012 .222
    Jake Goebbert, PR-LF2111010 .500
Chris Carter, LF2000111 .100
   a- Nate Freiman, PH-1B2000013 .333
Jason Castro, C1000110 .600
    Jason Jaramillo, C1100100 .200
J.D. Martinez, RF2000023 .250
    Jimmy Paredes, PR-RF1100000 .091
Rick Ankiel, DH2121000 .667
   b- Marc Krauss, PH-DH0101100 .600
   c- Brandon Barnes, PH-DH1010000 .400
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B2000000 .462
    Brandon Laird, 3B1114100 .375
Jonathan Villar, SS4000002 .077
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SB - Jose Martinez (1, 2nd base off Perez/Romine)
CS - Jose Altuve (1, 2nd base by Marshall/Cervelli), Rick Ankiel (1, 2nd base by Marshall/Cervelli)
Team LOB - 9
DP - Villar-Altuve-Pena, Altuve-Pena, Altuve-Pena
E - Brandon Laird (1, Dropped fly), Ross Seaton (1, Throwing)
Houston Astros
Lucas Harrell 3300010 3.60
Brad Peacock 2100000 9.00
Ross Seaton (BS,1) 0.2130000 0.00
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Brett Oberholtzer (H,2) 1.2311020 4.91
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Game Information
Attendance - 3213
Game Time - 3:11
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Manny Gonzalez, First Base - Joe West, Second Base - UMP Nonindividual, Third Base - Andy Fletcher