By Paul Hagen and Todd Zolecki / MLB.com| March 9th, 2017
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Francisco Liriano hasn’t lost his mojo since he joined the Blue Jays in August.
He allowed one walk and struck out five in three scoreless innings Thursday afternoon in a 6-4 victory over the Phillies in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. Liriano hasn’t allowed a run in five innings this spring. He went 2-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 10 appearances (eight starts) last season with Toronto, following a trade with the Pirates.
“Physically I feel great,” said the left-hander, who didn’t allow a ball to leave the infield. “I’m just trying to take it one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time. I’m not trying to overthrow or be too [fine]. And getting ahead in the count. That’s the big thing for me now.”
The Blue Jays hit the ball hard against Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff. Ryan Goins tripled to right-center field to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Darwin Barney in the second inning to make it 2-0. Saltalamacchia then homered to right-center field in the third. It was his second homer of the spring. Barney’s sacrifice fly to right in the third scored Melvin Upton Jr. to make it 4-0 lead.
“He didn’t locate his fastball very well,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I don’t know if he was working on trying to locate it, but he didn’t mix his pitches enough, which got him into trouble. He didn’t throw his curveball and changeup that much.”
Toronto manager John Gibbons was upbeat after the Blue Jays snapped a four-game losing streak.
“I don’t think Liriano can look any better,” he said. “That ball’s ducking and darting every which way. The offense came to life. And it was good to see [reliever] Jason Grilli out there for the first time this spring. A lot of good things happened out there.”
Blue Jays Up Next: With Marcus Stroman playing in the World Baseball Classic, right-hander Mike Bolsinger will step into that spot in the rotation Friday when the Blue Jays travel to Lakeland to play the Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Bolsinger was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last Aug. 1 for Jesse Chavez. Also scheduled to throw for Toronto: Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, Casey Lawrence and T.J. House.
Phillies Up Next: The Phillies host the Yankees in a Grapefruit League game at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Spectrum Field. Right-hander Clay Buchholz (0-0, 7.20 ERA) makes his third start of the spring. He obviously knows the Yankees well, spending the first 10 years of his big league career with the Red Sox. The game can be seen on MLB.TV.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.