It was really hot today. It was so hot that two guys were passed out in the shade at Jimmy Johns on Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater.
It was so hot that anyone wearing a non-white T-shirt at the Phillies – Blue Jays game in Dunedin was a sweat billboard.
And while we’re on the subject of the ballpark in Dunedin, where the Phillies play four games this spring (two down, two to go) – it has the curious name of Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. On an afternoon like today the name almost made sense, with one’s body temperature feeling like you were sitting in a car parked in the sun with black exterior and interior, no air conditioning, and windows that don’t open. I’m not sure how much the stadium re-design will help, with renovations targeted for completion by Spring 2019, but anything stands to be an improvement on shadeless afternoons like today.
But the big news today wasn’t the weather. The big news was that one-time aspiring ace Aaron Nola took the mound for the first two innings, and looked very sharp against the Bluebirds. In two scoreless innings, Nola’s fastball topped out at 93 miles per hour with excellent location and movement.
And, as Miriam noted, he was able to double up on the pitch without any apparent negative consequences. Phils’ fans and brass heaved a sigh of relief after this one, although continuity remains to be established.
The game ended in an 8-8 tie, the second consecutive tie game (when was the last time that happened?). Brock Stassi keeps stating his case for making the club, going 3 for 5 to boost his gaudy slash line to .636/1.940. With his 28th birthday coming in August, and having spent last year in AAA, this was basically “put-up or be resigned to playing out your days in Triple A” time for the slick-fielding first baseman. The fact that he began the game in left field today (he has played a handful of games there each year in the minors) signals that the Phils are seriously trying to make room for him.