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It's the First Game and it Doesn't Count: Astros 8, Phillies 3

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No reason to be alarmed!




Yeah, it didn't really turn out the way any of us would have wanted, but it was baseball, and it was being played live by my favorite team, and I could watch it. I'm not sure I could ask for more on a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon.

First, the good things. Cole Hamels looked sharp in the two innings he pitched. Chase Utley (*cue the choir of heavenly angels singing*) went 1-for-2 with an RBI in his first Grapefruit League game in three years. Domonic Brown went 1-for-3 and had a nice catch in right field while battling the wind. Young minor leaguers like Cody Asche and rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte got a bit of playing time. Kevin Frandsen spent some time at first base! That was, you know, weird! Pete Orr hit the first home run of the Phillies season. Well, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. It's... it's a thing. That happened.

And now, the less than good. Every pitcher not named Cole Hamels got hit around today by the Astros. BJ Rosenberg gave up three runs on five hits in two innings (though only two runs were earned -- more on that later), Zach Miner (yeah, I'm not sure who that is) gave up two runs in one inning (again, just one earned run), Jeremy Horst pitched two innings and gave up just one run, and Justin De Fratus closed out the game by giving up two runs in two innings. But you know what? It's the first game of spring training and none of these games count.

Yuniesky Betancourt went 2-for-3 (that is not a typo, that actually happened) and turned a fine play at shortstop in the fifth inning. I'm not making that up. Why is this less than good? Because it's Yuniesky Betancourt and it cannot last. If he impresses Charlie Manuel or Ruben Amaro Jr or Buford the mail guy or whoever has a voice in Phillies decision making today, then we're all up shit creek because it won't last. He is Yuniesky Betancourt and he will always revert to being himself. But hey, it's the first game of spring training and these games don't count. Betancourt still has plenty of time to show them who he really is.

Ryan Howard had an unpleasant day, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and some nasty words for the home plate umpire. But the season is like eleven seconds old and these games mean nothing, so Howard has time to do that unpleasant stuff less and do other good things more.

And the defense, oh the defense. There were four errors today. Four. The first error of the season was made by Erik Kratz. His throwing mishap allowed the Astros baserunner to advance to third after stealing second. (Keeping track of the Astros players was hard, since few of them had names on their jerseys and I don't think I've seen any of them before. I think their entire team is new.) Darin Ruf booted a ball in the fourth inning, and beyond that it wasn't a good day for him defensively or at the plate (though the Phillies broadcast booth did their best to praise Ruf at every turn). Then Ben Revere bobbled a ball in the fifth inning -- Revere didn't make a single error in center field last season. And Michael "Why Are You Still Here?!?!" Martinez closed out the error parade with a missed catch in the eighth inning.

So yeah, today's game was a mess. The Phillies lost 8-3 to the Astros, who continue to plague the Phillies even after moving to the effing American League. But it's baseball! And look at the calendar -- it's only February 23. It's the first game of spring training, and the best part is that none of these games count for anything.