Nick Pivetta, Maikel Franco lead Phillies to home opener win

Nick Pivetta, Maikel Franco lead Phillies to home opener win


Gabe Kapler’s first home opener as Phillies manager went pretty smoothly Thursday afternoon. Oh, sure, the first-year skipper was booed, but he would have traded that for a win, and that’s just what he got thanks to the starting pitching of Nick Pivetta, the offensive contributions of Maikel Franco and some nice work from the bullpen.

Franco drove in four runs with a two-out single in the first inning and a two-run homer with one out in the seventh as the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins, 5-0, in front of 44,488 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies opened the season with four losses in five games on the road and Kapler was pilloried for everything from his handling of the bullpen to the way he aligned his defense. The fans let him have it with a significant round of boos during pre-game introductions and pelted him with an even louder round of boos when he popped out of the dugout to remove Pivetta with two outs in the sixth inning and a runner on base.

Pivetta was at 97 pitches with Justin Bour, a lefty power hitter, due up. Kapler’s decision to bring in lefty reliever Adam Morgan made sense because Bour is a superior hitter against right-handed pitchers. But that didn’t stop the crowd from booing Kapler as he made his way to and from the mound. The boos turned to cheers when Morgan struck out Bour on three pitches. In the dugout, bench coach Rob Thomson gave Kapler a pat on the back after the strikeout.

Pivetta did not walk a batter in 5⅔ innings. He gave up four hits and struck out nine.

Franco had a big game. He had half of the Phillies’ six hits. In addition to his RBI single and two-run homer, he had a triple in the fifth.

The Phillies benefitted from nine Miami walks. Three of them eventually became runs.

The Phillies are now 2-4. Miami is 2-5.

• Shortstop J.P. Crawford went 0-for-4 and is now 1-for-19 with six strikeouts and one walk.

• Scott Kingery started in right field and batted third. He scored a run and stole a base.

• The Phillies had four stolen bases, two by Cesar Hernandez. The Phils lead the majors with nine stolen bases.

• The Phils are off on Friday. The series resumes Saturday night with Vince Velasquez opposing Miami lefty Dillon Peters.

• Jake Arrieta will make his Phillies debut Sunday against Trevor Richards (see story).

Two contestants on the Bachelorette look exactly like Philly sports stars

The Bachelorettte

Two contestants on the Bachelorette look exactly like Philly sports stars

We’re just going to go ahead and say what you’re already thinking. There are two contestants on this season’s Bachelorette that look a lot like Philadelphia athletes.

Exhibit 1: Luke P. is Bryce Harper

While Phillies fans may have had love at first sight when the team signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year contract, his Bachelorette doppelgänger is also a man who falls in love fast. From the time Luke P. got out of the limo on night one, I can’t unsee his resemblance to Bryce Harper.

Looks like I’m not the only one, it has been confirmed on Twitter.

Exhibit 2: John Paul Jones is Nolan Patrick

I was a little wary of this one, but if another random human on social media says it, it’s a confirmed fact. The man that was so nice, they named him thrice, John Paul Jones is basically Flyers center Nolan Patrick.

The people have spoken.

Now, see for yourself.

As for the rest of the guys, with absolutely no advanced knowledge whatsoever, Peter, the pilot, will be the one at the end down on one knee proposing to Hannah B.

After giving up 7 runs on 856 feet worth of homers, does Cole Irvin get another start?

After giving up 7 runs on 856 feet worth of homers, does Cole Irvin get another start?

CHICAGO — And this is why you need to close out those one-run leads in the ninth inning when you have a chance to take two in a row from the hard-hitting Chicago Cubs in their electric home-field environs of Wrigley Field …

Because sooner or later, the Cubs are going to break out the lumber and lay a beating on you.

That’s just what happened to the Phillies on Wednesday night. Twenty-four hours after they suffered a painful walk-off loss to the Cubs, the Phils were pounded by a score of 8-4 (see observations). The Phils are now tasked with the difficult challenge of beating Jon Lester in Thursday’s series finale to get out of Chicago with a split. Then it’s on to face another lumber company in Milwaukee, the same one that outscored the Phils, 22-6, in the final three games of a four-game series last week in Philadelphia.

The Cubs didn’t need to wait until the ninth inning to beat the Phillies on Wednesday night and they didn’t do it against the bullpen. They teed off on rookie lefty Cole Irvin for 856 feet worth of home runs in the third and fifth innings. Anthony Rizzo belted a mammoth three-run shot in the third and Albert Almora Jr. crushed a first-pitch grand slam in the fifth.

Later in the game, the Cubs got a 449-foot homer from Javiez Baez against Enyel De Los Santos. All of the Cubbies’ runs came on homers.

“The wind was blowing out,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We saw what it looked like in batting practice. The ball was rocketing out of the ballpark.”

The Phils were only able to rocket one ball out of the yard, but Andrew McCutchen’s solo shot in the eighth was too little too late.

The big subplot in this game was Cole Hamels. The lefty made his first-ever start against his former club. The Phillies jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Hamels, blew up his pitch count and got him out of the game after four innings. But the Phillies needed to do more against Hamels. They left two men in scoring position in the first inning and the bases loaded in the fourth.

“The difference in the game was we really did a good job of building Hamels’ pitch count, but they were able to deliver the knockout blows,” Kapler said. “They scored all of their runs on two swings [against Irvin]. We just weren't able to deliver that one knockout blow, that uppercut. They were able to do that.”

Irvin is a command lefty who can’t afford to miss spots up and over the plate. He tried to go down and away with a 3-0 fastball against Rizzo in the third and the Cubs’ slugger crushed the heart-of-the-plate pitch off the scoreboard to tie the game.

Irvin pitched around Willson Contreras in the fifth to get to Almora. The walk to Contreras loaded the bases and brought pitching coach Chris Young to the mound. The plan was to go at Almora with changeups, but not, as Irvin said, with changeups that were “middle-in and belt high.” Irvin’s first pitch to Almora was right there and the Cubs’ centerfielder crushed it for four runs.

“Unfortunately, I just didn't make my pitch there and didn't make my pitch to Rizzo, either,” Irvin said. “They hurt me for it. I didn’t even get through five innings so I’m really disappointed.”

The big question now is: Will Irvin get another start next week against the Cardinals at home? His performance in his first two big-league starts would suggest that he deserves a look beyond a difficult outing in his third big-league start. But the Phillies can easily go in a different direction because Vince Velasquez is just about ready to come off the disabled list. That issue was talked about extensively before the game (see story).

After the game, Kapler wasn’t ready to make any decisions.

“I think that’s something that we want to spend some time thinking about,” he said. “After a loss like this and after we just kind of got punched, I think the main thing is that we go back and digest and look at what happened in the game and really evaluate it with a little distance between what happened. That’s usually how I approach those things.”

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