It was a hot day at Knology Park in Dunedin; whether it was the blazing sun above or the Phillies bats that made it so hot … well that’s the question.
The Phils won 15-7 over the Blue Jays, doing a fine job offensively while receiving some surprising contributions from Minor Leaguer Jason Donald. The 2B/SS, who was reassigned to Minor League camp earlier this spring, got a chance to play with the boys and delivered with two three-run home runs, both well-struck balls that were no doubters. Donald received a standing ovation after his second tater, which brought home Ray Olmedo and So Taguchi.
Early contributions came from Chase Utley, who knocked a first inning home run; Geoff Jenkins, who pulled a double down the right field line (I was hoping with the runner being held on first, Jenkins would hit one through the hole; he decided to go line dancing, and what a call); and Wes Helms, who provided two RBI later on.
Cole Hamels pitched 5.1 innings, unraveling in the sixth for five earned. He gave up a triple to Vernon Wells in the fourth, but held him there after a fantastic strikeout to Frank Thomas (killing Hurt with a changeup and an awesome fastball). Marco Scutaro homered off him in the fifth, and in the sixth, Wells burned him for a double before the wheels came off. For the most part, however, Hamels looked pretty good â€” though some of the Jays’ hits were real nice shots.
Clay Condrey stumbled in the seventh after letting in another of Hamels’ runs in the sixth. He struck out two, but gave up four hits and a walk. Time to let Clay go.
Tom Gordon was the welcome sight, striking out the side in the eighth after a scary moment where he seemed to show injury. Gordon’s curve was on point and the fastball remained low. Good sign.
Of course, Jason Donald was the story, and his big day was a welcome sight for the young man poised to start 2008 in AA Reading. Seeing him strike some balls Friday opened my eyes to the kid; clearly he’s the real deal. With Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins both blocking his path, I hope he can learn to play third base or left field. Both seem like a feasable option, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was starting in left â€” ready to take over third â€” by May 2009.
What we got out of this game:
- Jason Donald is a damn good prospect, kids.
- Cole Hamels will be ready for Opening Day, no doubt.
- Tom Gordon was on, and when he is, he’s good.
We also learned sunblock was necessary at Knology Field. I sat very close to the plate, getting a good burn all day long. No block = lobster skin. My flight leaves soon; I’ll blog later about the final day of my trip, but until then, here’s to aloe.