The Phillies dropped their second straight spring training game today, this time by a score of 6-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays. The score looks a little better than yesterday’s, but the play was much more encouraging. The Phillies once again jumped out to an early, one-run lead thanks to an RBI single by Jimmy Rollins, but had it erased when pitcher Justin Lehr gave up back-to-back homeruns to start the fifth inning. Gary Majewski then came in and threw two perfect innings. During that time, regular Greg Dobbs tied the game with an RBI single to drive in John Mayberry Jr. However, things got away from the Phillies quickly in the eighth inning when Blaine Neal spotted the Jays four runs in 2/3 of an inning. The Phils obviously did not recover in the ninth inning as the Jays handed the World Champs their second loss.
However, there were many positives. The story of this game has to be Carlos Carrasco and J.A. Happ, who both took the mound in hopes of claiming the currently vacant fifth spot in the Phillies rotation. The Blue Jays’ hitters posed little problem to them and as it turned out, their toughest competition was one-another. Carrasco started the game and after what seemed like two minutes was sitting on the bench, watching Happ pitch. He made quick work of the Blue Jays batters, retiring all six he faced, three of them on strikeouts. Third inning, enter Happ. With a tough act to follow up, Happ tossed a perfect inning of his own. It wasn’t until he had two outs in his last inning of work that he gave up the first (and his only) hit of the game. He finished his two innings of labor with one strikeout and one baserunner allowed. There’s not too much you can say about a two inning sample, but I think it’s safe to say that these two pitchers got off to a great start in the race for the final starting pitching slot.
It’s tough to draw conclusions from any number of spring training games and it’s especially hard when that number is two, but it’s even more difficult to try to stop yourself form doing so, so here is what I think I probably shouldn’t be thinking after two exhibition games:
-The offense has been lackluster. Rust has led to a ton of pop-outs in the two games. However, it was nice to see two regulars driving in runs with base hits today.
-Marcus Giles has no shot at the final bench spot.
-Gary Majewski has a great shot at filling in for Romero during his fifty game suspension, even if he’s wrong-handed.
-John Mayberry Jr. has an early lead in the race for the final position player roster spot. He’s got hits in both games so far and can provide the right-handed pop the Phillies are looking for off the bench. The one problem: he’s an outfielder and the Phils’ would prefer a versatile infielder.
Props to the Phightin’ Phils Phorum for the picture at the top of the post. They’ve got a few more great photos on their blog, so give them a looksee.