The Phillies did not get to wear green jerseys on St. Patrick's Day, so the team wore them today at home against the Toronto Blue Jays at Bright House Field in Clearwater. The other half of the Phillies, up in Kissimmee, Florida to face the Houston Astros, did not get to wear green. Simultaneously, the Phillies sent two candidates for the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation to the mound, as David Buchanan faced the Blue Jays and Jeff Manship faced the Astros.
Game One, at Phillies: Phillies fall 3-1.
David Buchanan took the hill in Clearwater looking to boost his chances of starting the season in the majors. Buchanan would put together a strong showing, but would not be able to secure the win for the Phillies.
The Phillies struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Jimmy Rollins, leading off for the first time all Spring, failed to reach base. However, second-hole hitter Tony Gwynn followed with a double. Chase Utley, batting third, hit a double of his own to knock in Gwynn.
But that would be it for the Phillies offense. The Blue Jays would get three runs, and that would be enough to take down the Phillies.
The Blue Jays got two runs in the second inning. Rookie outfielder Moises Sierra and former Phillies catcher Erik Kratz both went deep to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Phillippe Aumont followed four innings from Buchanan and pitched two and a third scoreless innings (though he walked three and gave up two hits). Mario Hollands pitched the two and two-thirds innings, allowing another solo home run to Kratz in the ninth inning to make it 3-1.
That would be the ballgame.
Game Two, at Astros: Phillies win, 6-3
The Phillies were dealt a really brutal blow before the game when during batting practice Darin Ruf strained his oblique.
In the game, Jeff Manship and Bobby Abreu would be the story. Manship pitched five innings, allowing just one run, scattering six hits and allowing one walk. Abreu went had three hits, scored a run and made a fine defensive play in the outfield, throwing out Astros runner Carlos Corporan attempting to score.
Several other Phillies had a pair of hits, including Ben Revere, Ronny Cedeño, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, and Reid Brignac. Cedeño, Rupp, Hernandez, and Brignac would each drive in a run, as would Cody Asche and Steve Susdorf, pressed into duty from the minor league camp when Ruf was unable to play.
B.J. Rosenberg relieved Manship in the sixth inning and continued his strong spring (minus that one outing against the Pirates) with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk. The Astros would score two more runs in the ninth inning off of Sean O'Sullivan.
Former Phillies shortstop prospect Jonathan Villar went go 2-4 with an RBI. The Astros also announced that former Phillies prospect Jonathan Singleton was optioned to minor league camp.
Impact: Manship outpitched Buchanan today, but both continue to have a shot to help the Phillies this season. Buchanan frequently draws comparisons to Kyle Kendrick. Next season, Buchanan could conceivably replace Kendrick in the starting rotation. The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 14, unless the team decides to give the rest of the starting rotation extra rest early in the season.
Abreu probably helped himself the most today, with the strong throw and three hits. Abreu's batting average is now up to .281 with an on base percentage of .452. Abreu's OPS is now .890. With Ruf's injury today there is probably an extra roster spot available, at least to start the season.