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).