Game 2 of Spring Training marks the home opener for the Phils. The team would open its doors for the inaugural game at the newly-named Spectrum Field. Stretch reliever Adam Morgan would start the game vs. the New York Yankees on a beautiful day in Tampa. Morgan would be supported with what may be the Opening Day lineup.
It's our 2017 Grapefruit League home opener! First pitch at 1:05pm. #GoPhils
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) February 25, 2017
The veteran lefty Morgan got out to a fast start, retiring the first batter he faced on just one pitch. He followed that up with another groundout and an inning ending strikeout. He wasn’t overpowering anybody, but did a good job switching up his pitches and keeping batters off balance.
Cesar Hernandez was the leadoff hitter for Philly in the bottom half of the inning and you could definitely see he put some serious work in during the offseason. The Venezuela native looked thicker and according to the broadcast booth he put on fifteen pounds of muscle in the offseason in hopes to add a bit more pop to his game. He didn’t record a hit in his first at-bat, but it’s definitely encouraging to see how hard he worked to take his game to the next level.
Morgan continued to pitch in the second inning and flashed some slick glove work in front of the home crowd. Morgan snagged a one hopper, turned and fired to second, to start an inning ending double play- his last inning of the day.
More impressive defensive plays continued in the third inning for the Phightin’. After reliever Cesar Ramos gave up a double to start the inning, Galvis slid to field a groundball, spun, and fired to first to retire the first batter of the inning. One play later, 3B Maikel Franco fielded a groundball at third and did a great job of staring the runner back to third before getting the out at first. Unfortunately, Ramos followed those impressive plays up with a wild pitch, which brought in the runner from third.
It was another slow start for the Phils’ offense today. The first seven batters were retired before Rupp singled in the third inning. An E6 after the single put Philly in a favorable position, with runners on second and third and only one out. Hernandez drove Rupp in on a groundout to shortstop for the team’s lone run of the inning.
Ricardo Pinto relieved Ramos to start the fourth inning and was absolutely electric. Pinto’s first pitch registered at a blazing 95 MPH and all the helpless batter could do was stare as it crossed the plate. The young pitcher followed that up with a beauty of a curveball for another strike, and then proceeded to retire the batter via flyout. The second batter didn’t have much luck versus Pinto’s fastball, as he flew out to center on a 97 MPH pitch. CF Obdubel Herrera was a very busy man this inning as he recorded all three outs of the inning. The biggest takeaway from this half inning, however, was no doubt Pinto’s fastball/curveball combo.
In his second at-bat of the game, Franco sent an inside pitch screaming over the left field wall and gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead. The show was a no-doubter as the Yanks defenders just stood still and watched it fly.
Former #1 overall pick Mark Appel started the fifth inning off on a good note, punching out the promising prospect Clint Frazier. The rest of the inning wasn’t so smooth. He allowed a single and a double before throwing an errant pitch that brought both runners in to score- gving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Appel was a lot more impressive in his second inning of work. He showed solid command of his fastball, locating it on the outside corner twice, and his secondary pitches had good movement. The former Stanford Cardinal didn’t allow a single hit or run in his final frame.
The Phillies offense began to find their groove and the team went on a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Prospects Scott Kingery and Andrew Pullin started the inning off with back to back single, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Herrera grounded into a double play afterwards, but scored Kingery in the process. The Yanks were poised to end the inning with a tie score, but Maikel Franco had other plans. He slapped a ball into the gap in left center for what would have been a standing double. The center fielder, however, couldn’t field it cleanly, and the ball actually rolled under the fence after deflecting off his glove. After a brief moment of hesitation, Franco chugged his way around the bases for the first inside the park home run of 2017. It was a crazy play, but young power hitter Rhys Hoskins brought us back to reality with a LOUD homerun to center field. The back to back homers, along with the run scored earlier in the inning, gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.
The Yankees tacked on another score in the 8th inning before RP Hector Neris came on for the save at the top of the ninth inning. He retired the first two batters successfully before things got murky. Neris forced a pop up on the third batter, which should have ended the game, but the 3B Gomez lost it in the sun and it dropped between he and the left fielder. New York capitalized on the error and singled in the next at-bat to bring the runner in from second. Fortunately Neris closed the inning out without giving the Yanks the lead, but Gomez’s error was a costly one.
Gomez struck out to start the bottom of the ninth. Hoskins followed that up with a double to deep left- his second hit of the game. Pete Mackanin called on speedster Roman Quinn to pinch run for Hoskins. The move paid off wonderfully. 1B Brock Stassi sent a fastball back up the gut to center and Quinn showed off the wheels. Quinn made it home well before the throw and the Phillies were walk-off victors!
The walk-off marks the first win of the year for the team and it was great to see the young guys rally in the clutch like this. The Phillies will travel to Dunedin, Florida to take on the Blue Jays at Auto Exchange Stadium tomorrow. Be sure to stay tuned to Philly Sports Network as we will recap every Phillies game this season!
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports