Nick Pivetta unravels in 2nd inning of Phillies' loss to Brewers

Nick Pivetta unravels in 2nd inning of Phillies' loss to Brewers


MILWAUKEE — It's important to remember that as a rookie, Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta is still getting the hang of being a starting pitcher in the big leagues. 

So while seeing Pivetta give up eight runs in the second inning Friday night in the Phillies' 9-6 loss at Milwaukee was most certainly frustrating (see Instant Replay), you have to give him credit for the way he recovered.

"We've seen that with him before," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's pitched well, lost it for awhile and got it back. Part of pitching up here is to realize what you need to do next. Take a deep breath, step off and regroup. It took a few too many hitters to do that."

Pivetta was coming off his two best outings of the season. He allowed just four earned runs over 14 innings and went seven full in each of those last two efforts.

Armed with a 2-0 lead before he threw his first pitch, Pivetta appeared to be in control early against the NL Central-leading Brewers, striking out his first four batters before the wheels fell off. 

Domingo Santana got it started with a double, Manny Pina followed with a single and Keon Broxton made it a 2-1 game when his base hit drove in Santana. Orlando Arcia put Pivetta in the hole when a 1-2 fastball caught just enough of the plate for the shorstop to drive it to left for his ninth home run of the season and Pivetta followed that by walking Milwaukee's starting pitcher Zach Davies.

Then came a single by slumping second baseman Jonathan Villar and another walk, this time to Eric Thames, to load the bases for Ryan Braun.

Pivetta threw a first pitch slider to Braun that hung just above the zone, right down the middle, and Braun crushed it to dead-center for a grand slam. That triggered a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure, who had a simple message.

“[It was about] making adjustments," Pivetta, who fell to 2-5 with a 5.63 ERA in 12 big-league starts, said of the chat. "What are you going to do now? Are you going to go out there and give up, or are you going to go out there and shut it down? So it got me back on track and I was able to shut it down.

"My concern was after giving up eight runs, going out there and trying to minimize the damage as much as I can so we don't have to wear out the bullpen or use too many position players.”

Pivetta did get back on track and retired nine straight batters before Travis Shaw drew a one-out walk in the fifth and later scored on Pina's sac fly.

"It was like two different pitchers out there today," Mackanin said. "He struck out four in a row, then he just didn't locate any of his pitches. He hung every breaking ball he threw up there in that one span of eight or nine hitters, then he was a different pitcher after that. The home run and the grand slam did him in."

Friday marked just the second time that the rookie had a meltdown-type of start. Unlike his last, when he was tagged for six runs on seven hits and five walks over 2 2/3 innings at Arizona June 26, Pivetta managed to turn things around.

"You could tell the difference between my start in Arizona when stuff sped up on me there," Pivetta said. "It was two pitches that got me in trouble."

Mackanin was impressed by the way Pivetta recovered.

"That was good to see," he said. "He's a rookie and this is his first go-round in the big leagues. He's shown us a lot of promise and I like what he's been doing. Today wasn't his best."

It certainly wasn't his best, but he finished strong and that's reason for optimism. 

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.