Too often this Spring, we've heard about the ailing offense that exist on this Phillies squad. It has stopped the team from winning more than two ballgames, and has made some rather impressive looking pitcher outings into just another another loss. Perhaps it stems from it only being Spring Training, and not the middle of June. Perhaps the age of this team is even more of an issue than initially imagined. Perhaps we don't really want to know what the reason is. Whatever the case is, Cliff Lee and his offense were set to take on Brandon Beachy and the Atlanta Braves in Clearwater today.
The Game: With the first batter of the game came the first run of the game, as Braves' leadoff hitter Jason Heyward took Lee deep for a solo home run. Cliff would pitch into the fourth inning, where he recorded two outs but surrendered a single to Chris Johnson. Mario Hollands came in for relief, and much like Lee did, Hollands gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. Dan Uggla's two run homerun put the Braves ahead 3-0.
This contest was relatively close through the first six innings. However, things came unglued in the seventh. Jonathan Papelbon came in to pitch the frame. A throwing error by Maikel Franco allowed the first baserunner. After a strikeout, B.J. Upton singled to put two runners on. Freddie Freeman took advantage by singling to score the first run. Ryan Doumit then worked a walks to load the bases for Chris Johnson. Two more runs would come home on a single off his bat toward Domonic Brown. Finally, a two-run double by Tommy La Stella secured the final runs of the inning, and put the Braves way ahead at 8-0.
With two away in the bottom of the eighth, John Mayberry Jr. singled into center field. A wild pitch allowed Mayberry to move to second. A single off the bat of Reid Brignac brought in the Phillies first run of the game. Make the score 8-1 Atlanta.
Despite the one run, the Phillies could make no more moves, and they fell 8-1.
Ken Giles pitched an inning for the Phillies today. Despite allowing a hit and a walk, Giles caught the eye of both Tom McCarthy and Matt Stairs. He recorded three strikeouts and is known to throw in the high 90's, often reaching 100 MPH. Justin De Fratus threw a scoreless inning as well.
Some notable Phillies offensive performances included:
Bobby Abreu: 1-2, BB
Marlon Byrd: 1-2, BB
Maikel Franco: 1-3, K
Impact: As is the usual, the offense struggled. Mightily. You don't want to use Spring Training performances as a sign of things to come in the regular season, but there is some obvious concern. Age was the main factor holding the Phillies back in terms of the prediction for where this team was headed, and it may be casting a shadow on this squad now. Perhaps the saving grace is the performance of some of the young talent, including the one from Ken Giles today.
Up Next: The Phillies and Braves will face off once again, but at Champion Stadium this time. David Buchanan will take the hill for Philadelphia, while Julio Teheran will pitch for the Braves at 1:05 tomorrow afternoon.