I hope everyone is having a pleasant Sunday morning and remembered to spring their clocks ahead. Today we’ll recap the second of three meetings this week by the Phillies and Red Sox – complete with starts by Gavin Floyd and David Bell. And then, in case you haven’t already heard, we will discuss the Phillies trade with for David Dellucci formerly of the Texas Rangers. Then we’ll wrap up with a few important events that deserve attention. First, on to the game.
Gavin Floyd pitched in his first outing since being named ot the starting rotation. Early on, he pitched well, striking out Manny Ramirez looking with his fastball and then freezing Jason Varitek with his curve. Things got a bit hairy however when he served up back-to-back solo homers to Mike Lowell (his first HR of the spring) and Kevin Youkilis, both over the newly constructed left field wall. Apparently they didn’t build it high enough as both blasts would have been swallowed alive by the Green Monster if the game was played in Boston. Trot Nixon added another notch in his Phillies-killing belt by hitting a homer in the top of the fourth. Floyd’s line for the afternoon read: 4 innings, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 runs, and 4 hits, including the 3 HRs.
Fortunately the offense played their role and the Phillies took the game 9-5. The lineup was lead by David Bell who went 4 for 5 on the day with 3 runs scored – one from Chase Utley’s 3-run shot in the first and another from his own homer over the left-field wall in the seventh. Bell batted second yesterday as the DH (which was agreed upon to be instituted for the game) and Nunez started at third. There were thoughts of leaving Bell behind in Clearwater to see some more minor league action, but he showed that he was indeed ready for the season – at least offensively. The rest of the lineup continued to pound Sox starter David Pauley early on – recording 7 hits in their first 11 ABs.
However, the Phils lost the lead as Floyd began missing his spots and Geoff Geary came in – not a good sign. Fortunately the bats kept slugging, and the Phillies quickly regained the lead in the fifth and added a few insurance runs throughout the rest of the game. The bullpen settled down as well. Cormier pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth and Franklin came on in his new role as seventh inning specialist and promptly sent the Red Sox down 1-2-3. Following directly in line, Rhodes pitched a perfect eighth and Gordon closed the game.
There were a few other points to note in the Phils’ first game back at Citizen’s Bank Park. Jimmy Rollins punched an RBI single in his second at bat, so it’s reassuring to know that he didn’t forget how to hit back home in Philly. He also made a beautiful diving catch to save a run in the third. Pat Burrell didn’t look so hot at the plate or in the field, he went 1-4 and had trouble judging a fly ball that eventually bounced off the bottom of the wall. Finally, there was no potential for another round of confrontation for Ryan Howard as Josh Beckett, along with most Sox rotation, did not make the trip back from Florida. Now on to the trade.
As suspected, the Charlie Manuel got his left-handed bat off the bench and it came in the form of 32-year old David Dellucci. The Phillies gave up recently demoted Robinson Tejeda and outfielder Jake Blalock – who will be reunited with his brother, Hank. Pat Gillick even got the Rangers to pick up some of Dellucci’s $950,000 salary. Dellucci spent the past two seasons with the Rangers and recorded career highs in homers (29), games played (128), RBIs (65) and hits (109) in 2005. Dellucci will round out the Phillies 25-man roster so this of course is bad news for Tomas Perez and the Chris Coste. Only if David Bell starts the season on the DL – which became less likely with his performance yesterday – can either of the two have a chance for making the team. In general though, the trade was a good move since provides some insurance for Pat Burrell and his ailing legs. Unfortunately for Tejeda, who pitched well last season, it was unlikely he would have gotten another crack at the Phillies rotation – the more time he spent in the minors, the more likely he would eventually have been leapfrogged by one of the other young pitching prospects.
ON TV. If you read this early enough in the morning, be sure to tune into ABC’s "This Week" where Jimmy Rollins will be interviewed by the baseball intellectual George Will regarding his 36-game hitting streak and the steroid scandal. If you prefer sleeping your Sunday away, you can catch the replay at your convenience here.
OPENING DAY TAILGATE PARTY. Don’t forget if you’re heading down to the game on Monday (or even if you’re not) stop by the Phillies Nation party in the Linc parking lot along Darien Street (view map).