Phillies Blow Ninth-Inning Lead, Tie Blue Jays 8-8 as Aaron Nola Debuts

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Mar 2, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Jesmuel Valentin (76) throws to first for the out in the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Jesmuel Valentin (76) throws to first for the out in the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aaron Nola made his 2017 spring training debut as the Phillies tied the Toronto Blue Jays despite having a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.

The Phillies led 8-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth with the game seemingly in hand. However, an inning gone haywire from Pedro Beato allowed the Blue Jays to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth as Philadelphia tied for the second day in a row.

Aaron Nola made his long-awaited spring debut, tossing two scoreless frames as he recorded one strikeout. He hit 94 on the stadium radar gun, but as Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly pointed out, it often says the pitchers are throwing faster than they actually are.

Nola told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com he felt fine during his start:

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"“It’s a relief,” Nola said. “The ball feels like it’s coming out pretty good right now. My body feels in line. I feel strong right now, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing in Spring Training going forward.”"

Pat Neshek came on to relieve Nola and allowed Toronto to score the first run of the game. He surrendered three hits and one walk as he struck out one batter.

Luis Garcia followed up Neshek, throwing a scoreless inning for the first time this spring.

Philly’s offense came alive in the top of the fifth off former Phillie Brett Oberholtzer. Oberholtzer gave up a single to Brock Stassi then walked Nick Williams and Ryan Hanigan to load the bases. Jesmuel Valentin and Freddy Galvis hit back-to-back two-run doubles to put Philadelphia ahead 4-1.

That lead didn’t last very long as Ben Lively surrendered a three-run home run to Jose Bautista. Kendrys Morales doubled in the next at-bat, but Lively was able to work out of the jam and prevent the damage from getting any worse.

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Tommy Joseph put the Phillies ahead once again with a two-run single in the top of the seventh, Toronto cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning as Joely Rodriguez gave up a solo home run.

With the score 6-5 heading into the ninth, the Phils looked to pad their lead and they did just that. Stassi laced a RBI single off the glove of Toronto second baseman Gunnar Heidt and Bryan Holaday lined a RBI double two at-bats later. Now they had a seemingly comfortable 8-5 lead.

I say seemingly because the bullpen managed to blow another lead.

Non-roster invitee Beato gave up a run but had two outs with a runner on first. He then proceeded to give up three straight singles and the Blue Jays were able to tie up the game at eight. The blown save will likely hurt Beato’s case to the make the major-league bullpen this season.

Next: MLB, MLBPA Announce Several Rule Changes

The Phils return to Clearwater Friday to take on the Twins and the game will actually be on TV on The Comcast Network (TCN). Philadelphia’s starter is to be determined as of the time this article was published.

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