PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch likes what he has seen from his entire squad so far in Spring Training. He also likes to see a good pitching matchup, regardless of when it occurs. And most of all, he likes winning."When you get a matchup of like
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch likes what he has seen from his entire squad so far in Spring Training. He also likes to see a good pitching matchup, regardless of when it occurs. And most of all, he likes winning.
"When you get a matchup of like [Gerrit] Cole vs. [Noah] Syndergaard or their 'A' squad against our 'A' squad -- they only had a couple of regular position players out there -- I think the calendar will tell you that it's about to pick the pace up a little bit. You'll see guys play a little deeper in the games or at least multiple innings in a row," Hinch said of his Astros and their 6-1 win over the Mets on Tuesday.
• Cole happy with outing opposite Syndergaard
"Two weeks from today, we play our last exhibition game, so it does start to feel like the season's close," he added.
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After Houston won Tuesday -- behind strong pitching, enough hitting and three Mets errors -- Hinch said he was happy with both halves of the game.
"The first half of the game is primarily our Major League team," the skipper said. "Second half of our game is some guys trying to break through. Both halves have been consistently good this spring, which is a good sign."
As for winning again and seeing his club improving its record to a Grapefruit League-best 13-5?
"It's a good culture," Hinch said. "It obviously creates a positivity in guys."
Seeing 99 mph
Utility man J.D. Davis had a good day against Syndergaard, and he said it was an excellent test.
"Any time you get to see and face the caliber of Syndergaard, you want to go out there and compete and see where you're at, especially in the spring," said Davis, who went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles off the Mets' righty.
"The first two pitches were 99 [mph]," said Davis with a laugh as he admitted to looking at the scoreboard. "I was like, 'All right, here we go.' It looked like 99 with some sink to it. He was bringing it.
"Just to compete [with] that kind of caliber kind of puts your status of where you're at in the spring and what you need to work on after going up against one of the better pitchers in the league."
Competing for a spot at first base with A.J. Reed and Tyler White while Yuli Gurriel is out with an injury, Davis raised his average to .394.
"I've been having a pretty good spring and taking it one game at a time," he said. "Just getting exposure at all three positions -- left field, third base and first base -- and trying to get comfortable out in left and over at first."
Added Hinch: "He can hit, and obviously he's playing a lot. He's playing as much as anybody on our team."
Davis said he watched video of a number of hitting greats, including Alex Rodriguez and Washington's Daniel Murphy, trying to pattern some of his batting techniques, especially the position of his bat before the swing.
"The biggest person I watched was Murphy," Davis said. "If you watch Daniel Murphy, his bat is just wrapped around his head and everything. I was watching A-Rod right-handed, [Carlos] Correa does it big time, [George] Springer. Just watching those guys and not necessarily looking in the mirror, but taking bits and pieces."
Hinch said Cole and Houston's catchers are being forced to be quick studies in getting to know each other.
"It's hard for him because he only has five or six starts, and we've got a handful of catchers that are going to catch him this season," Hinch said. "I'm trying to give him a little test with all of them and kind of see where everybody fits in and how each guy gets to know each other.
"Our catchers are quick learners. I think Gerrit will learn to like throwing to any of these guys."
Right-hander Justin Verlander faces Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright in a 12:05 p.m. CT game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Wednesday. Listen to the game on Gameday Audio.
Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com