In many games this season, fans can likely expect to see Cliff Lee fire the first pitch and Jonathan Papelbon throw the last. Both took the mound for their first game action of the spring.
The starter made a great first impression for 2013. The closer did not.
Lee worked two scoreless, hitless innings, allowing one walk and striking out two. Papelbon entered in the fifth inning and allowed six runs on five hits – including a two-run home run by Nick Castellanos and a three-run bomb by Miguel Cabrera – in just 2/3 of an inning in an 10-1 loss for the Phillies.
The Phillies went quietly for most of the game at the plate. In the fourth, they got on the board after loading the bases with no outs. After a Yuniesky Betancourt single and walks by Chase Utley and Michael Young, Ryan Howard hit a sacrifice fly to put the Phillies on the board.
That was as good as it got for the Phillies. Papelbon entered in the fifth and surrendered six runs. Kyle Simon finished the fifth. Mike Stutes entered in the sixth and allowed two more on a two-run triple by Tyler Collins.
It was hardly a good impression for either of the relievers. Papelbon won’t lose his job over one bad start though. Stutes could.
Phillippe Aumont pitched a scoreless seventh while striking out one. Raul Valdes allowed two run in his two innings of work.
Offensively, Howard was the star, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles as well as a sacrifice fly driving in the only Phillies’ run.
It was not the start several Phillies wanted to have this spring. But it is only one game, and there is time for improvement. Still, this is hardly the effort the team needed to show to a fan base that is looking for as many positives as possible.
The positives: all three starters have looked solid in their debut. The negatives: the relief pitching was lousy today and the offense wasn’t much better.
It is only three games in, but that doesn’t take away some of the concerns that have popped up early in the spring. But tomorrow is another day to prepare and the Phillies will be back in action hosting the New York Yankees at 1:05 p.m.
L: Jonathan Papelbon