The Phillies are putting the Grapefruit League on notice.
A team that entered the season expected to finish at the bottom of the National League East improved its record to 6-4-1 with a 2-1 victory over the Rays. Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the spring, Chase Utley singled in his first game of the spring, and Justin De Fratus struck out the side to nail down the save.
Six pitchers combined to hold the Rays to one unearned run, including Joely Rodriguez, Jesse Biddle, Ethan Martin and Cesar Jimenez, none of whom are expected to make the team.
The Rays scored their only run in the first inning after Cesar Hernandez airmailed a potential inning-ending double play throw to first base.
1:58 p.m. - Hey, just like old times. Chase Utley lined a single on a 1-0 pitch off Chris Archer and Ryan Howard followed it by sending the first pitch arcing over the right field fence for a two-run home run to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead over the Rays at Bright House Field. It was Howard's first home run of the spring and just the Phillies' third overall.
Archer, a rising star who was mighty impressive last season for the Rays, had cruised through his first trip through the Phillies order, allowing two baserunners and striking out three in his first three innings.
1:48 p.m. - Aaron Harang has been scratched from a scheduled start against the Tigers tomorrow for what the team called "precautionary measures." Harang has dealt with some soreness in his back. He had his first start of the spring pushed back a few days. There is no indication that he is in danger of missing Opening Day, but it is certainly something to keep your eye on given the unlikelihood that Cliff Lee is in the rotation.
All-Star second baseman Chase Utley was in the lineup for the first time this spring, batting third and serving as designated hitter in a Grapefruit League game against the Rays. Utley has spent the first month of spring training working his way back from a sprained ankle that he suffered in January while doing fielding drills in California.
Utley played in 155 games last season, his most since 2009, but his .746 OPS was his lowest total since 2010. Utley's 11 home runs in 589 at bats was the lowest output of his career.
Utley put together a solid at bat against Chris Archer but ended up striking out. Joely Rodriguez started the game for the Phillies. Utley played in 155 games last season, his most since 2009, but his .746 OPS was his lowest total since 2010. Utley's 11 home runs in 589 at bats was the lowest output of his career.
Utley put together a solid at bat against Chris Archer but ended up striking out. Joely Rodriguez started the game for the Phillies. The Rays scored an unearned run in the top of the first after second baseman Cesar Hernandez airmailed a throw to first on what should have been an inning-ending double play off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera. Not only did the throw extend the inning, it allowed Cabrera to advance to second, which put him in position to score on an Evan Longoria single up the middle. Rodriguez was down in the zone for most of the inning but walked Cabrera and allowed the hit to Longoria.
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