DUNEDIN, Fla. – The Phillies offense is showing signs of life, even if it’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball.
A day after defeating the Minnesota Twins 5-1, the Phillies (8-15-3) scored four runs in the first four innings and held on for a rain-shortened 6-3 victory Monday over the Toronto Blue Jays (12-11) at Florida Auto Exchange Field. The Phillies have now won two straight games for the second time this spring.
Ryan Howard started the two-run second inning with a single up the middle. With left-handed Domonic Brown up, the Blue Jays defense shifted, anticipating he would pull the ball. Instead, Brown hit a grounder down the left field line that third baseman Brett Lawrie would have fielded had he been in his usual position. After John Mayberry Jr. walked to load the bases, Cody Asche and Cameron Rupp grounded into fielder’s choices, knocking in a run apiece.
The Phillies stuck with a similar formula in the fourth. Mayberry and Asche singled to lead off the frame, and Rupp followed with a walk to load the bases once again. Tony Gwynn Jr. flew out to center, but Mayberry tagged up and narrowly beat a strong one-hop throw from Jose Bautista. Ben Revere’s line-drive single to right set up another play at the plate, as Asche slid safely past Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro to make it 4-0 Phillies.
While the Phillies had 11 hits for the second consecutive game, nine of them Monday were singles. They have the third-fewest extra-base hits this spring, behind the Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
David Buchanan, fighting for a spot on the Phillies’ opening day roster, started the game and pitched two perfect innings, striking out two. Buchanan will pitch Saturday’s exhibition game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. This spring, he has allowed three earned runs in 12 innings pitched.
Buchanan and Mario Hollands retired the first nine Blue Jays they faced, but Hollands found himself in a jam in the fourth when he allowed a leadoff single and walk. With one away and rain clouds rolling in, Phillippe Aumont came on in relief to face Bautista.
Bautista worked the count full and fouled two pitches out of play before ripping a fly ball to Brown. Adam Lind hit a grounder to Utley, who flipped to second for a force out to end the threat.
Aumont preserved the Phillies’ shutout after a 1-2-3 fifth inning. The Blue Jays scored their first run of the game in the sixth, when Colby Rasmus hit a double off the center field wall to knock in Munenori Kawasaki from first base.
The teams played in light rain for most of three innings before the game was called in the eighth.
The Phillies will try for their first three-game win streak this spring as travel to Tampa tomorrow for a 7:05 p.m. game against the Yankees. Jeff Manship, who allowed one run and struck out five in five innings March 20 versus the Astros, gets the start.