It was only an exhibition, but in their first game together, this talented Venezuela team gave every indication that it will live up to the hype. Six pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout as Venezuela edged a Phillies split-squad team, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon at Bright House Networks Field.
Kelvim Escobar, Giovanni Carrara, Rafael Betancourt, Jorge Julio, Victor Moreno and Francisco Rodriguez combined on the blanking. Rodriguez pitched a hitless ninth for the save, and only one Phils baserunner made it as far as third base.
Rodriguez pumped his fist and spun around when he fanned Josh Kroeger for the final out of the game.
"Everybody was fired up," Escobar said. "To see all the fans there was very exciting. You know you have to relax and get your work in but at the same time it's very exciting."
A Venezuela starting lineup that included eight players who have made at least one Major League All-Star appearance managed only eight hits, but the pitching staff made further runs unnecessary.
"That's an All-Star team out there," Myers said. "There's definitely no No. 87s over there."
Escobar (1-0) went three innings and gave up two hits. He struck out three and walked one.
"This was like my second game, and you're always looking to get to 40-45 pitches, and that's what I did," Escobar said. "It's been a while for me since I've been out there and thrown that many pitches, so I'm very pleased with the way things went today."
Miguel Cabrera drove in Carlos Guillen with the game's only run with a single in the first.
A tight game and a vocal crowd of 3,633 -- many of them Venezuela fans -- gave the game a charged atmosphere that even the players noticed.
"It was kind of crazy," Venezuela center fielder/Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu said. "That's the way that we play in Venezuela. For us, this was normal. I know for over here this was not typical.
"It's exciting. [The fans] expect you to do some damage. I think you'll see them even more [excited] when our games start on Tuesday [in Pool D of the World Baseball Classic at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex]."
Venezuela manager Luis Sojo called the fan reaction "unbelievable."
"In Venezuela, it's worse. These people, they never shut up," Sojo said. "That's nice. Now we've got the [World Baseball Classic], eveybody is from Venezuela. We're having the best time ever. I'm excited to be the manager and I can't wait for the first day to see what these guys are going to do."