CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies homered twice off left-hander Nick Bierbrodt in the bottom of the ninth, and another run scored on Chris Jakubauskas’ wild pitch, but the tying run was stranded on second base.
Orioles 6, Phillies 5.
Manager Buck Showalter must have really wanted this win. He removed Bierbrodt with one out and a runner on third, and his last two relievers were warming up in the bullpen.
He didn’t need Mike Ballard or Chris George. Jakubauskas retired Harold Garcia and Delwyn Young to end the game after he walked Wilson Valdez.
Catcher Craig Tatum made a nice play on Garcia’s bunt to record the second out of the inning.
Michael Martinez and John Mayberry Jr. hit back-to-back homers off Bierbrodt, who made the trip despite being in minor league camp.
Showalter praised Zach Britton and didn’t mind that the left-hander admitted to being nervous.
“I thought he threw well,” Showalter said. “You think about men who worked their whole life to get an opportunity to do this. I’m not much into the ‘too cool for school’ thing. I couldn’t tell a whole lot. I was impressed with him.”
Showalter paired up starter Chris Tillman with Jake Fox because Fox caught the right-hander a few times last season, “so he’s familiar with him.”
Fox has four hits in the last two days and is batting .571.
“You’re not going to sneak many fastballs by him,” Showalter said. “He hit some breaking balls, too. He’s in a good spot right now offensively.
“The competition’s going on, and with his makeup, he’s not going to miss any at-bat or any chance to be dialed in.”
Matt Wieters had three hits and two RBIs, raising his spring average to .571, but something else he did impressed Showalter even more.
“Here’s a guy who was earlier DHing,” Showalter said. “I told him, ‘One more at-bat,’ he gets his last at-bat, I look around, the catcher makes the last out, and who’s out there warming up the pitcher, when he could be in his car going back home? It’s the little things, the type of things your teammates notice.”
Showalter also told reporters that Justin Duchscherer felt fine after throwing off flat ground today.
First baseman Derrek Lee wants to make his debut on Saturday.
“That would be a good fit in my mind,” Showalter said.