Jose Bautista kept up his torrid start to the spring, hitting two doubles and driving in two runs Thursday that sent the Toronto Blue Jays over the Philadelphia Phillies 7-5.
A day after hitting a long home run against the Phillies in his first at-bat of exhibition play, Bautista had an RBI double in the first inning off Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee.
Bautista finished 2 for 2 with a walk. The former two-time major league homer champion missed the final six weeks last year because of a hip injury.
Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera also drove in runs for Toronto.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty good,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Gibbons liked how many of Toronto’s hits were up the middle or to the opposite field.
“Against a lot of lefties and things like that, you have to be able to do that and I think it was progress for us,” he said.
Lee allowed two hits and a run in two innings. He struck out three and walked none.
“Obviously I’m trying to throw strikes,” Lee said. “I made a couple mistakes. The first double was, for sure, a mistake. I tried to throw a backdoor cutter and it ended up right down the middle.”
“And then Bautista, I just missed on the pitch before and tried to throw the same pitch. It wasn’t a bad one, it’s just you get into a 2-2 count with him in that situation is not where you want to be. He put a good swing on it.”
Philadelphia’s offence was powered by a pair of home runs from bench hopefuls: Darin Ruf hit a two-run shot in the third and John Mayberry Jr. had a solo drive in the sixth.
Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey allowed one unearned run in two innings. He gave up two hits, two walks and struck out two.
Phillies: Lee gave up doubles to two of the first three batters he faced, then stopped the Blue Jays. He is the odds-on favourite to start on opening day March 31 at Texas.
Blue Jays: Dickey got through an uneasy first inning to feel good about his spring debut. The knuckleballer walked back-to-back batters with one out in his opening inning.
“I’m feeling a lot better than I was at this point last year, so I’m hoping that will carry out through the rest of spring and opening day,” Dickey said.
Ruf hit a long home run off Esmil Rogers with one on and no one out in the third inning. The shot was the first for any Phillies player this spring. Ruf finished 1 for 3 with a walk.
Dickey worked with new battery partner Erik Kratz for the first time this spring. Kratz, a catcher acquired from the Phillies in a trade this winter, wore a first baseman’s glove in an attempt to have a better chance at catching Dickey’s arsenal of knuckleballs. Kratz allowed one passed ball in the game’s first inning.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” Dickey said. “The game speed, and runners on — it’s just going to take some time. But I felt like he looked real comfortable back there. Outside of the one passed ball, I felt like he handled it pretty well.”
Philadelphia right-handed reliever Mike Adams threw off the mound for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery on July 31. He was limited to 28 games in his first season after signing a two-year, $12 million free agent deal with the Phillies. The veteran setup reliever hopes to join the Phillies bullpen at some point in April.
“It went good — really good,” he said. “It was probably an 85 per cent bullpen or so. I wasn’t trying to let loose right off the bat. I was trying to get a good feel for throwing off the slope again.”
Philadelphia right-hander Ethan Martin, who entered camp competing for the fifth starter’s job, left after facing four batters in the fifth inning with shoulder discomfort. He’ll be examined by the team medical staff on Friday morning.
“He was pain-free pitching, but the ball just wasn’t coming out, throwing 85 miles per hour,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “That was a sign for me to go out and see what was going on.”