Observations from today's Pirates-Phillies game, including an unfavorable report on Pedro Feliz, courtesy of our correspondents.
CLEARWATER, Fla - Pedro Feliz returned to the lineup today, which is good, but he looked to be moving gingerly in the field and at bat. His mobility appeared to be limited on the field, and he had some trouble getting out of the batter's box. He was taken out before most of the other regulars, as would be expected.
Joe Blanton started off shaky; he seemed to have trouble getting a read on the home plate umpire's strike zone, and in the second inning he was called for a balk and got into a heated discussion with the second base umpire. Blanton seemed to lose his cool a bit, but he limited the damage to two runs in the inning. He bounced back and had an easy third and fourth, and got the only two men he faced in the fifth.
The Phils' offense finally got going in the sixth, starting with a Jason Donald triple. The highlight of the day was a Ryan Howard line drive home run to left field with Raul Ibanez on base. He absolutely crushed the ball. Ten Phillies batters were sent to the plate in the fifth, scoring five runs, and echoing their tendency last season to score runs in bunches.
Ryan Madson continues to impress; he struck out three straight batters following a triple on a fly ball that was misplayed by Matt Stairs. Blaine Neal blew the save in the ninth, but final scores mean little in the land of citrus. - Furnstein & Jonesman