Bautista belts pair of homers in win over Phillies
Outfielder knocks in four runs; Happ struggles with command over 2 2/3 innings
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jose Bautista homered twice as the Blue Jays overcame a rough start by left-hander J.A. Happ to defeat the Phillies, 11-6, on Wednesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Toronto fell behind early but Bautista helped spark a four-run rally in the third with a two-run homer off right-hander Roberto Hernandez. The ball was crushed to left-center field and bounced off the top of Toronto's scoreboard for Bautista's fourth longball of the spring.
Three innings later, Bautista added his fifth of the Grapefruit League season. This time, the two-run shot came off former Blue Jays right-hander Brad Lincoln. Those were the only two hits Bautista would get on Wednesday, but he now has 11 RBIs and eight extra-base hits in parts of 14 games this spring.
It was an all-around good afternoon at the plate for Toronto. Jose Reyes had a pair of hits and scored two runs, Melky Cabrera went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Edwin Encarnacion had his fourth double of the spring in another two-hit performance. The 11 runs marked the most the Blue Jays have scored in an official Grapefruit League game this spring.
Hernandez had a rough day on the mound for Philadelphia. He allowed seven of those runs on 11 hits while walking one and striking out two over 3 2/3 innings. He entered the game with an ERA of his 2.03 in 13 1/3 innings this spring, but he saw that number skyrocket to 5.29 following the disappointing start.
Happ wasn't much better for the Blue Jays, as he struggled with a high pitch count and couldn't get out of the third inning. The former Phillies starter was charged with just three runs but issued four walks and allowed three hits while striking out two. He threw 71 pitches, and only 34 strikes.
"The best way to counter that is to get ahead of guys," Happ said of the high pitch count. "The other way is to use all of your pitches and use them early and try to force contact. Where I'm a couple of inches off, I'll start getting a couple of inches on the plate or on the corners, and it's a totally different thing. I need to make those adjustments, and I fully expect I will."
First baseman Ryan Howard led the way on offense for the Phillies, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. The big blow off Happ came when Ben Revere doubled to the gap in left-center field, as three runs came around to score before the Phillies outfielder was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
Up next: Right-hander Esmil Rogers will attempt to make his case for a spot in Toronto's starting rotation when he takes the mound on Thursday afternoon against a Phillies split squad at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Rogers was considered somewhat of an afterthought for a starting job, but Happ's struggles could have opened the door. Rogers will need to display improved command and limit the number of hard-hit balls in order to have any chance. Right-handers Dustin McGowan and Jeremy Jeffress also are scheduled to pitch.