Spring is finally upon us, and with Spring comes the one thing we all know and love: major league baseball. Fans around the country erupted into cheers or tears as Opening Day got under way. Opening Day is the only day in the MLB season in which every team feels that they have a chance to win it all . . . even our beloved Phillies. This Spring Training gave us grief, but after the performance we saw today it leaves, some fans have found a sense of optimism.
The Fightins won on the road with a 14-10 victory in Arlington at Globe Life Park against the Texas Rangers. This game was a big surprise taking into account that the Phillies shutout in their last three Spring Training games. In the top of the second, with 2 outs, the Phils were able to manufacture six runs including a two-run Cody Asche double down the left field line and a Jimmy Rollins grand slam. This was only second grand slam hit by a Phillie ever on Opening Day (the last being Placido Polanco in 2010) and was J-Rol’s 200th career homer.
Ben Revere delivered a pair of two-out RBI singles, driving in a total of 3 runs. Asche and Marlon Byrd each hit their first HR of the season. The first game of the season also had a downside and in this game it was Cliff Lee. Cliff was able to set the Rangers down in 1-2-3 fashion in the first inning but over the next 4 innings gave up 8 earned runs on eleven hits. Cliff’s dismal performance certainly set off alarms around Philadelphia and we will just have to wait and see whether this type of performance will continue.
Although there are many Phillies that contributed to the win, three Phils in particular can be noted as driving forces in the victory.
Cody Asche: With three hits in four at-bats (in addition to a walk), Cody was able to reach base and score four times. Making the most of his at-bats Cody showed today that he is the kind of player that can stay a Phillie for a long time.
Ben Revere: Picking up just where he left before his injury last year, Ben had three hits in six at-bats, excellent production from your leadoff man. In addition to an excellent diving catch in right-center field Ben scored 2 runs, stole a base, and had three RBIs.
Carlos Ruiz: Although only having one hit, Chooch was able to show discipline at the plate drawing two walks and scoring 3 times while holding down the fort behind the plate.
Cliff Lee: Most fans know that Cliff played poorly so there really is no reason to banter on Cliff any longer. The times that Cliff got hit was when he left the ball up in the zone, a hitter’s favorite pitch, a hanging curveball here or there, and middle in fastballs that any good hitter can crush but these are mistakes that a player the caliber of Cliff Lee can fix.
Jake Diekman: He didn’t pitch terribly, but after a quick inning of solid work the Rangers began to catch onto Diekman. He left two runners on base before Ryne Sandberg saw the future before his eyes and gave him the hook (both runners left by Diekman would score). Diekman left Phils fans with a bad feeling in their stomach, reminiscing of the poor bullpen work last season.