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Wheels Deals and Hall’s Long Balls

Dingers Galore and Other Good News From Clearwooder

Brian McQuilkin

Wheeler got tagged for three runs and a walk over three innings this afternoon in Clearwater, including a dinger into the lawn seats behind center field by Oneil Cruz off the game’s first pitch. Still, he looked confident on the mound and appears to have put the pitch clock out of his mind. Wheeler only needed to throw eleven more pitches to end the inning.

Afterwards, he said that he felt good and spoke about how he relies on JT’s expertise with knowing both what to throw against who and also what pitches Wheeler prefers to throw in different situations.

For those clutching their pearls over Wheeler’s performance, you can relax. He’s performed similarly in previous preseasons, as have plenty of other aces like Lee and Halladay.

Appearing relaxed and sure of himself, Cristopher Sánchez gave up a single hit and struck out two in a scoreless sixth inning.

The headline of the day was the six balls Phillies bats sent over the outfield walls today, with a spotlight on Darrick Hall who was responsible for two of today’s dingers. One of those homers was off lefty Caleb Smith. Filling in for Hoskins at first base while Hoskins DH’d, Hall looks ready to pick up where he left off last year. It’s the talent that he, Stott, Cave, and others bring to the field each day that when we’re reminded that Harper will likely not return until after the All-Star break, we can collectively shrug and smile and say, “What, me worry?”

Nick Castellanos walked once, showing more of that plate discipline, and in the third he sprinted in from right field to make an impressive running catch to end the inning and prevent the Pirates, who had the bases loaded, from doing any damage.

The best part of the game by far was a gift for those watching on TV - and that was the presence of John Kruk in the booth. There’s something missing from Phillies TV coverage when he’s absent. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of middle-age, but Kruk embodies the Phillies as a team as well as the fanbase, encapsulating that working class underdog ‘us vs. all youse guys’ personality ingrained in those who came up in the Delaware Valley.