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Rays 6, Phillies 1: Hernandez, Manship shine on mound
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Roberto Hernandez said he’d be better the second time out and he was right. The Phillies' right-hander was impressive in holding his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, to one hit over three shutout innings Monday afternoon. Hernandez struck out three and did not walk a batter.

Hernandez began the Grapefruit League season by allowing four hits and two runs in his first outing against Blue Jays last week.

“He was better with his stuff and his command and his overall strike throwing,” manager Ryne Sandberg said.

In addition to Hernandez, the Phillies received strong work from non-roster pitcher Jeff Manship, who pitched two more scoreless innings to run his spring total to four scoreless.

Manship, who has big-league time with the Twins and Rockies, was signed to provide starting and middle-relief depth. He has not walked a batter in four innings and has impressed Sandberg with his ability to keep the ball down. There are still many miles to go in spring training and Manship could pitch himself into serious roster consideration if he continues to impress.

Hernandez's spot on the staff is virtually assured. The Phillies signed him to be their fifth starter.

Sandberg critical of catcher
The Rays scored five runs in the seventh inning en route to a 6-1 win.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but reliever Mike Stutes was tagged for five runs. Stutes actually could have wiggled out of the inning without giving up a run, but catcher Lou Marson failed to make a play that would have been the second out and prevented a run.

First baseman Darin Ruf made the pick and throw on a ground ball. Marson took the throw in front of the plate in plenty of time to make the tag, but the runner slid in safely. Major League Baseball recently barred catchers from blocking the plate when they don’t have the ball. Catchers can block the plate when they have the ball. Marson appeared to over-think the play and got caught in the middle.

Sandberg was frank in his assessment of Marson’s mistake.

“When you have the ball, you can block the plate,” he said. “That was not a good play. We’ve covered it for two weeks. We don’t want a swipe tag there. He had 10 or 12 feet to play with. The defense was there, the throw was there, it was just bad technique at the plate. That’s an example of how we’re not going to do it.”

Galvis, Asche OK
Freddy Galvis caught a spike and twisted his right ankle sliding into third base in the fourth inning. He was removed for precautionary reasons.

“I’m fine,” Galvis said. “I twisted it just a little bit. I feel good.”

Back in Clearwater, Cody Asche made a quick recovery after being hit on the right hand by a pitch Sunday.

“Unbelievable improvement,” Sandberg said. “He was bruised Sunday. Today he looked good.”

Asche is expected to resume hitting Tuesday.

Wicked liner
Maikel Franco started at third base and hit a wicked line drive back at pitcher Matt Moore in the first inning. Moore got the tip of his glove on the ball as it rocketed past his head.

Franco hit .320 with 31 homers and 103 RBIs between Single A and Double A last season. When he makes contact, like the first-inning line drive Monday, the sound of ball meeting bat is loud and impressive.

“Vicious line drive,” Sandberg said.

Franco had two of the Phillies’ seven hits. The Phils are hitting an NL-low .196 after six Grapefruit League games and they have a 1-5 record.

Up next
The Phillies host the Blue Jays at 6:30 Tuesday night at Bright House Field. Cliff Lee will start against R.A. Dickey. Both are former Cy Young winners. The game will be televised on the Comcast Network.