Don't forget Pivetta when talking about Phillies' early-season bright spots

Don't forget Pivetta when talking about Phillies' early-season bright spots


A lot of good things happened Wednesday night for the Phillies, more than enough to overcome Hector Neris’ first blown save since last June.

The Phils beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3, in 12 innings (see first take) to complete a three-game sweep and a pretty spiffy 5-1 homestand (OK, they didn’t beat the ’27 Yankees, but you can only play the team that the schedule-maker sends your way) on the strength of:

• Scott Kingery’s game-winning sacrifice fly in the 12th and run-saving throw from left field in the sixth inning.

• Odubel Herrera’s homer-robbing catch on a Scooter Gennett drive to center in the 10th inning.

• Cesar Hernandez’s two-out solo homer in the fifth inning.

• J.P. Crawford’s two-run homer in the first inning and sacrifice bunt to set up the winning run in the 12th.

While these were all highlights, perhaps the biggest positive to come out of the win — maybe the entire homestand, for that matter — was the pitching of Nick Pivetta. The 25-year-old British Columbian made two starts during the homestand and allowed just nine hits and two runs over 12 2/3 innings. He walked zero and struck out 16 over that span.

No one is pronouncing Pivetta as arrived, but the Phillies might have a pretty good starter blooming here.

“The concentration level is different than it's been in the past,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Pivetta, who joined the Phillies in July 2015 when Jonathan Papelbon was traded to Washington. “The intensity level is different than it's been in the past. He's been able to maintain it throughout longer stretches. He worked diligently in spring training to attack with fastballs up in the zone and to use his curveball to play off of that. We're seeing him mix and match with his curveball and his slider effectively and appropriately. Those are two things that are really coming together. Being able to land your secondary pitches for strikes is not the easiest thing to do for a young pitcher, and he's doing it consistently.”

Injuries forced the Phils to push Pivetta to the majors last season and he went 8-10 with a 6.02 ERA in 26 starts. That’s not pretty, but the experience he gained was invaluable and now it’s paying dividends.

“My number one thing is you’ve got to learn from your failures and I feel like right now — I still have a lot to learn — but I went through a lot last year and this year I can kind of handle certain situations and minimize damage," he said.

“I learned from my mistakes last year. I worked hard with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and everybody not trying to be so perfect in the strike zone. I think that really has carried over this year and it's been good so far.”

Pivetta allowed just two runs over seven innings and struck out seven. Kapler trusted him to go back to the mound at 92 pitches for the seventh inning and the right-hander responded with a quick, 11-pitch inning. He was on his way to a win before Neris blew a one-run lead in the ninth. Yacksel Rios ended up getting the win in relief. Pivetta had to settle for covering a few more miles on the road to becoming a good major-league starter.

Injury updates on 7 Phillies, including J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce

Injury updates on 7 Phillies, including J.T. Realmuto and Jay Bruce

WASHINGTON — Some updates on the wounded Phillies, who not only have eight players on the injured list but also have a shorter bench than usual with two everyday starters banged up.

CF Roman Quinn

Quinn was activated off the IL Monday and will bat sixth in Monday's lineup against tough Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin. Formerly a switch-hitter, Quinn will now bat exclusively from the right side.

Because he has been hurt so frequently, the Phillies will be cautious with Quinn. The tentative plan is to use him off the bench Tuesday as the Phillies pay attention to how he bounces back from the start Monday.

Quinn can still provide value for this team, especially with the collection of injuries to centerfielders.

OF Jay Bruce

Bruce (hamstring) was out of Monday's lineup as a precaution — and also because Corbin was the opponent — but will likely be available to pinch-hit.

C J.T. Realmuto

Realmuto got a second straight day off Monday as he recovers from taking a foul ball to the groin midway through Saturday's game.

Realmuto caught the first 105 innings in the month of June and was due for a day off but didn't want it to come like this.

"We want him to be feeling himself," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Doesn't mean that he's going to feel perfect by the time we put him back in the lineup but we definitely want to be sensitive to the fact that he's still a little bit sore. I don't think it's so much about him re-injuring the area as it is not doing anything else that might cause a problem."

RHP Tommy Hunter

As expected, Hunter (flexor strain) will begin a rehab assignment Monday night with Class A Clearwater. He isn't too far away from making his season debut.

LHP Adam Morgan

Morgan (flexor strain) threw a bullpen session Sunday for the second time in four days. Last week, Kapler said Morgan may be able to return this upcoming weekend. There should be more clarity tonight or Tuesday on his status.

RHP Jerad Eickhoff

Eickhoff was placed on the injured list Monday with biceps tendinitis, a day after allowing five runs and two more homers in one inning of relief.

Eickhoff first felt the nagging injury in Milwaukee on May 24 but tried to play through it, as most guys do, for better or for worse.

"Just been something that's been bugging him a little bit and not allowing him to get loose the way he wants to get loose," Kapler said. "Out of respect for one of our hardest workers and most prepared individuals, it makes sense to really pay attention to that and protect him and get him back in his best physical baseball condition."

It's the second Phillies injury this week in which a player tried to play through pain and had to miss some time because of it. Bruce first felt his hamstring tightness "three or four days" before exiting Saturday's game, according to the player.

Would Kapler rather his guys tell him when they first start feeling pain?

"I understand what it's like to be a player and want to play through things that feel nagging," he said. "These guys are professionals, they all want as many opportunities as they can possibly get. We talk a lot about the more communication, the better. I also understand the position our players are in."

OF Adam Haseley

Haseley remains out with a groin injury but is making some progress. He took batting practice and shagged fly balls Monday in D.C.

The next step would be practicing baseball-like movements such as bursting out of the batter's box and simulating a stolen base attempt.

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Odubel Herrera's administrative leave extended through July 1

Odubel Herrera's administrative leave extended through July 1

Administrative leave for Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been extended through July 1, Major League Baseball announced on Monday afternoon. 

Herrera, 27, has been on administrative leave since May 28 after he was arrested last month in New Jersey on a charge of domestic violence. 

Earlier on Monday, the Atlantic City Municipal Court announced that Herrera’s attorney waived an initial arraignment scheduled for today. His next court appearance will be scheduled by the court. 

Herrera could face a suspension without pay from MLB. Discipline in these cases is handed down directly from the commissioner. 

The alleged incident took place at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, according to the police report. The police report also said the victim “had visible signs of injury to her arms and neck that was sustained after being assaulted by her boyfriend, David Odubel Herrera, during a dispute.” 

As the legal process plays out, the Phillies have already removed five banners that featured Herrera’s likeness — four from light poles and one from the concourse at Citizens Bank Park. 

In early June, Phillies vice president of communications Bonnie Clark said, “We don’t believe it’s appropriate to display them while the investigations is going on.”

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