CLEARWATER, Fla. — After putting up eight runs in the first five innings, the Phillies narrowly eked out an 8-7 Grapefruit League win against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot to left-center field, but the Phillies bullpen fell apart with Sam Coonrod (three earned runs), Michael Kelly (two), Austin Ross and Connor Brogdon (one).
On the mound: Cristopher Sánchez started and struck out three and walked one, allowing no runs or hits in two innings. Reliever Nick Nelson also had a strong showing, striking out three and allowing no runs, hits or walks over two innings.
Who stood out: Center-field candidate Matt Vierling got the start in left field. He had two singles — one that came off the bat at 103.8 mph and the other at 104.4 mph — and drove in two runs. Now that Odúbel Herrera is undergoing an MRI exam for his right oblique, the center-field job has opened a bit. Vierling appears to be the front-runner.
First look at Schwarber: New Phillie Kyle Schwarber made his Phillies spring debut, hitting leadoff and playing DH. Schwarber struck out twice, but made hard contact on a lineout (114.1 mph).
Next: The Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla. The game will be streamed on MLB.com.