Phillies Spring Game 5


The Toronto Blue Jays pitchers put a stranglehold on the Phillies (1-3-1) hitters for 8 innings today, and new Toronto 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson drove his first homerun in Jays blue, giving the visitors the victory at Bright House Field.

The loss was the 3rd straight for the Phillies in Grapefruit League action, and the offense is proving to be the main culprit. They were shutout for the first 6 innings vs the Yankees yesterday, and scored just a single run in the first 8 vs the Astros on Thursday. Overall, the Fightins hitters have produced just 7 runs over the last 4 games, more than half (4) of those in the 9th inning.

There were some bright spots today, most of them on the mound. Jerome Williams got the start in his second outing, and became the first Phils pitcher to go 3 innings this spring. He allowed an earned run on two hits, striking out 1 and walking no one.

Williams was followed to the mound by David Buchanan, also for his second outing of the spring, and just as on Tuesday vs the Yankees, Buchanan was unimpressive. In 2 innings of work he allowed a pair of hits, including the homerun by Donaldson in the 4th that put Toronto up 2-0. He struck out one and allowed no walks.

I feel like we’re going to contend. There’s no doubt about that.” ~ Papelbon

The top of the 6th featured the next important moment for the Phillies organization, as closer Jonathan Papelbon took the mound for the first time this spring. Papelbon was sharp, striking out 2 and allowing a hit in just one inning of work.

In the top of the 7th, another in an intriguing parade of Phillies arms took to the mound. This time it was 23-year old hometown lefty Jesse Biddle, whose 2014 season was decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness that had appeared to leave negative emotional scars on the former 1st round draft choice.

Biddle did not fair well, giving up back-to-back doubles and then an RBI single to the first three batters he faced. The result was a pair of Toronto runs which doubled the Jays lead out to 4-0. After that, Biddle settled down, striking out one and walking one, but the damage had already been done.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Mario Hollands tossed a perfect 8th out of the bullpen, striking out one. Jeanmar Gomez came on for the 9th, allowed a pair of hits, but escaped with no damage. So the game went to the bottom of the 9th with the Phillies trying to avoid the shutout.

The Phils put a couple of runners on base, and a Carlos Ruiz ground out got them on the board. That was followed by an RBI double off the bat of Brian Bogusevic to pull them within 4-2. But it was the closest the game would get, as Chris Nelson grounded out to 3rd to end it.

Following the game, Papelbon was reported by the Associate Press to be upbeat about his own physical conditioning, and about the team’s prospects this coming season: “I feel like we’re going to contend. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think anyone in this clubhouse, especially the veterans, doesn’t feel like we’re not going to contend.

Maybe he will be proven right. But at least with bats in their hands, the Phillies have not yet looked like a contender so far this spring. Since the spring opener on Tuesday, when they scored 5 times, the offense has been sparse. But it’s early in spring training, things are being worked on, and that work will continue tomorrow.

The AP also reported that 24-year old outfielder Kelly Dugan was reassigned to minor league camp prior to the game. Dugan has been sidelined with a right foot injury, and continues to wear a walking boot. Chase Utley continues to miss action as he recovers from a sprained ankle that is not believed to be serious.

On Sunday, the Phillies travel just over 100 miles south, to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, to meet the host Tampa Bay Rays. Reliever Joely Rodriguez is scheduled to make the start for the Phils, who will stretch out a handful of their relief corps in this one. The Rays will start one of the American League’s top emerging arms, 26-year old Chris Archer.