Here's how the Phillies' minor-league teams fared on Thursday, April 3:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Triple A
Behind a combined two-hit performance from the pitching staff, the IronPigs opened the 2014 season by shutting down the Pawtucket Red Sox, 4-0, at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I.
Starter David Buchanan, who had an impressive spring with the Phillies, gave up both of Pawtucket’s hits, but struck out five batters and picked up the victory in six innings of work.
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After Buchanan exited the game, Mike Nesseth, Jeremy Horst and Luis Garcia kept the Red Sox hitless the rest of the way and combined for five strikeouts. The IronPigs pitchers struck out 10 batters in all.
The offense got off to a hot start as well with two runs in the first inning. Center fielder Clete Thomas led off the season with a double to left field. After a wild pitch advanced him to third, Thomas eventually crossed the plate thanks to a single from third baseman Maikel Franco. Franco crossed the plate during the next at-bat after first baseman Jim Murphy knocked another double to left field.
The IronPigs increased their lead in the top of the fourth after catcher Cameron Rupp led off the inning with a home run over the left-field wall.
The IronPigs added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when a wild pitch allowed Murphy to score from third base.
Murphy led the IronPigs from the plate as he went 3-for-5 and was only a homer shy of the cycle. Thomas finished the day 2-for-5 as both of his hits were doubles.
The IronPigs will look to keep the hot start going at 7:05 p.m. Friday, when they play the Red Sox in the second of a four-game series. Right-hander Barry Enright will start on the mound for Lehigh Valley.
Reading Fightin Phils – Double A
The Fightin Phils stumbled out of the gate from the plate and from the mound and they were shut out by the Portland Sea Dogs, 5-0, in a rain-shortened game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
Although game last only six innings, the Fightin Phils were unable to muster a hit, as Portland pitcher Henry Owens put on a dominant performance. Owens threw all six innings, struck out nine batters and walked only two.
While Owens looked in mid-season form, Reading starter Jesse Biddle looked as if he still needed to work out a number of kinks.
Biddle was on the mound for only 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on nine hits. He managed to strike out five batters, but it wasn’t enough to muster a whole lot of positives from Thursday’s outing and he was dealt the loss. Tyler Knigge finished the game and allowed two hits and a run.
The Fightin Phils are hoping for clearer skies literally and figuratively Friday when they host the Sea Dogs for the second of a three-game set at 7:05 p.m.
Severino Gonzalez is scheduled to get his second-career Double-A start for Reading.
Clearwater Threshers – Class A-Advanced
The Fightin Phils weren’t alone in being blanked because the Threshers suffered the same fate courtesy of a 7-0 beating by the Dunedin Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Fla.
The Threshers managed to record seven hits, but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and did not muster a hit that went for extra bases.
Six of the Threshers’ hits came from three players, as center fielder Peter Lavin (2-for-4), catcher Logan Moore and second baseman KC Serna (both 2-for-3) recorded two hits apiece. Third baseman Harold Martinez recorded the only other hit for Clearwater.
The Threshers’ struggles were mostly due to the performance of Dunedin pitcher Matt Boyd. Boyd allowed five hits and recorded five strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Clearwater’s Colin Kleven, on the other hand, struggled mightily Thursday. Kleven allowed six runs on seven hits in only four innings on the mound.
The Phillies’ Mike Adams tossed one relief inning for the Threshers where he struck out two batters and allowed only one hit.
The Threshers hope to have better luck when the face the Blue Jays again at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Lefty Ethan Stewart will be taking the mound for the Threshers.
Lakewood BlueClaws – Class A
A four-run eighth inning propelled the BlueClaws to a 6-3 Opening-Day victory over the Savannah Sand Gnats at Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Ga.
The BlueClaws’ offensive burst in the eighth was led by left fielder Larry Greene Jr. as he hit a three-run triple to increase their lead to 5-0. Two batters later, first baseman Wilmer Oberto hit a single to right field that plated Greene and give the BlueClaws a commanding 6-0 advantage.
The Sand Gnats managed to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the ninth, but Keivi Rojas weathered the storm and shut the door on them.
Despite being held off the scoreboard for the first three innings, the BlueClaws still pounded Savannah starter Robert Gsellman to the tune of 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The BlueClaws also recorded their first two runs on Gsellman during the fourth and sixth innings.
The BlueClaws got hits from eight members of the lineup for a total of 14 on the night. Greene led the way as he went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs. Not to be outdone, second baseman Andrew Pullin went 3-for-4 as well and crossed the plate on two occasions. Oberto and designated hitter Samuel Hiciano (both 2-for-4) also boasted multi-hit nights.
Starting pitcher Mark Leiter began the season on good note with five scoreless innings of work. Ulises Joaquin relieved Leiter and kept the shutout alive heading into the eight inning. Rojas ran into a little trouble in the ninth, but managed to escape with the win in tact.
The BlueClaws will take the field against the Sand Gnats again at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Tyler Viza will get the ball for Lakewood.