The Phillies’ spring training in Clearwater came to an end today. Many of my friends and acquaintances are saddened by this occurrence. Not me. Now, I can return to my normal routine. I can park at the Carpenter Complex instead of at the tennis courts a mile away. Go north you Phillies. Take your fans with you and let me get back to watching and reporting on the players at the low levels of the stateside affiliates.
So, today I attended the Phillies’ final Grapefruit League game. Yeah, hypocrite. Any way, what a game. Eight run, come-from-behind rally. 8-4 win over one of 2015’s Cinderella teams, the Houston Astros. 15-10-3 record. Spring ends on a good note.
Well, not really. Granted, there were some good things in the game but there were also some glaring negatives. Remember, I think a half-full glass is really half-empty. Tell me. If you order a glass of wine in a restaurant, doesn’t it arrive half-empty?
Anyway, you may have watched the game or saw a news report. So, I won’t do a full game report like I would for one of the minor league game or a Threshers’ regular season game. Here are a few facts and observations –
- Hellickson started and looked better than he did in his last start Friday night.
- His FB was 89-91 mph in the first two innings.
- He only threw one FB in the third inning, 89 mph.
- He had allowed one hit thru four innings, no runs, 5 K. His FB dropped to 89-90.
- He was 89-90 in the fifth, gave up his only walk and a 3-run HR to Altuve in the fifth on a 90 mph FB.
- Houston’s Dallas Keuchel shut the Phillies down on two hits thru seven innings.
- The Phillies started their 8-run comeback against the Astros’ bullpen with a line drive single to right by Andres Blanco.
- Cedric Hunter lofted a single to center that the fielder couldn’t come up with and Will Venable grounded a ball through the hole to load the bases.
- Ryan Howard was announced as the pinch hitter for Daniel Stumpf and Houston countered with a left-hander.
- Ryan Howard scorched a line drive that the first baseman couldn’t hold, but he recovered to get Howard at first as the Phils’ first run scored.
- Peter Bourjos reached on a SF that the center fielder lost in the sun for an error. He panicked and threw in to the cutoff man rather than try for Bourjos who hustled into second.
- Cesar Hernandez executed a suicide squeeze to tie the game, the Phils third successful suicide this spring. It was exciting to see Venable break down the line in front of us on the play.
- After a couple strike outs early in the game, Maikel Franco laced a line drive to left field to put the Phils ahead by a run.
- After a Darin Ruf ground out, Cameron Rupp walked to reload the bases.
- Andres Blanco came to the plate for the second time in the inning and crushed a HR to the berm in right center field.
- After Hellickson, the Phillies’ relievers showed some increased velo – James Russell 92 MPH, David Hernandez 94 MPH, Daniel Stumpf 92 MPH.
- Andrew Bailey got a quick out, but the Astros closed to 8-4 and had the tying run in the on deck circle with one out before an inning-ending double play.
- Blanco barehanded the flip from Hernandez and gunned out the runner on the play.
- Franco committed an error early in the game but made a nice play later on a chopper that he barehanded and threw to record the out at first.
It was an exciting ending to what had settled in to be a drab game for seven innings.
- Phillies re-signed Edward Mujica to a minor league contract.
- Lakewood BlueClaws released C Jose Mayorga.
- DSL Phillies released RHP Joel Cabrera.
- Jimmy Rollins will be the White Sox opening day, starting shortstop.