KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- 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.
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.