HOUSTON -- A small adjustment in his batting stance has helped Astros first baseman Brett Wallace find his groove.
Wallace doubled in his first at-bat Saturday, meaning he had hit safely in 13 of his last 14 starts, raising his average more than 150 points during that span. He had three hits in Friday's series opener to raise his batting average to .313.
Wallace backed his stance slightly off the plate following the season's first road trip in an effort to get a better look at pitches thrown inside.
"It's given him more of a comfort factor," Astros hitting coach Mike Barnett said. "Clubs still wanted to pound him in early, but what's happened since we backed him off is now they're trying to go more in off the plate and then go back out to his strengths, out away from him.
"I think it's allowed him to be able to use his hands on the ball that is down and on the inside part of the plate. He's getting there a lot easier."
Wallace admits he was getting too anxious and was on top of the plate trying to get a pitch to hit.
"It ended up causing me to jam myself a lot," he said. "We talked about making a small adjustment and getting back off a little bit. The ball, if it feels like it's off the plate, now it feels like it's middle-in. That's the pitch I was having trouble getting to. It's a minor adjustment, but it helps me feel more comfortable."
Mills talks to Torre after second ejection
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills, who was ejected for the second time this season in Friday's series opener against the Brewers, spoke via phone Saturday with Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations. Torre oversees on-field discipline.
"Joe wanted to know my side of it, and I let him know my side of it," Mills said.
Mills was thrown out by crew chief Joe West in the second inning, moments after pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was ejected by home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber for arguing balls and strikes while visiting the mound. Mills went onto the field to shield Arnsberg.
Mills emailed Torre on Friday night and got a return phone call Saturday.
"It was a good conversation," he said. "I have nothing bad to say about Joe West or Joe Torre. I emailed Joe last night with some comments that I had to say, and he called me back. It was all good."
Mills said he didn't expect anything further to come about following the incident. Mills was fined and suspended one game earlier this year when an Astros pitcher hit a Marlins batter after both benches had been warned.
Mills disappointed with Astros' defense
HOUSTON -- When asked to pinpoint something that has been somewhat of a surprise disappointment this season, Astros manager Brad Mills was candid about his team's subpar defensive play, especially recently. The Astros entered Saturday's game with a Major League-leading 21 errors.
"What has blindsided me a little bit is the defensive play the last few games," Mills said. "We've been so good the first three-fifths [of the season], and now it kind of ... you want to talk to the guys and see where they're at."
The Astros committed two errors in the fifth inning in Friday's loss, and they failed to covert two potential double-play balls in the inning. Shortstop Angel Sanchez misplayed a grounder and had to settle for a force out, and second baseman Bill Hall threw wide of second base trying to double up a runner.
When talking to players about defense, Mills says he addresses focus and concentration.
"Are they able to keep that focus and concentration through what's going on?" he said. "It's human nature. We've all been there. They've been real good about talking. I'm not calling anybody out either. We're just discussing it with them."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.