Gabe Kapler headed to make a pitching change in the sixth inning of a 5-0 win over Miami and was greeted with a chorus of boos before he even left the dugout.
Kapler, managing his first game at Citizens Bank Park, was emphatically jeered by the home-opener crowd as he walked to the mound to lift Nick Pivetta after throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings but exhausting 97 pitches. It was the longest start this season by a Phillies pitcher. Pivetta pitched strong but a lefthanded hitter was coming up with two outs and a runner on. This pitching change did not feel like a controversial decision.
But this was no time to reason. There was unrest in the ballpark after a disappointing start to the season. Kapler was already booed during the pre-game introductions. And the fans were ripe to rip the new manager again.
The boos followed Kapler back to the dugout, but his decision would pay off. Adam Morgan struck out Justin Bour on three pitches and the fans cheered. The Phillies used three relievers — Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia, and Hector Neris — to secure the win, which is the best way to stop the jeers. It was the team’s first win on a home opener since 2011.
Pivetta dominated the Marlins, striking out nine without a walk. He allowed just four hits and relied heavily on an effective fastball. He used his fastball for five of his strikeouts and mixed in a curveball to induce weak contact. His performance came against one of the weakest lineups in baseball. But it was still a welcomed sign for a pitcher who the Phillies have high hopes for this season.
The Phillies scored just two runs this week in their two losses in New York but came alive against the Marlins. Maikel Franco hit a double, triple, and homer. Odubel Herrera went 2 for 3 with an RBI single. Cesar Hernandez reached base three times. The Phillies walked nine times, two of which were intentional.
The Phillies saw 177 pitches, averaging 4.54 pitches per plate appearance. No other team has seen more pitches than the Phillies. They have used that grinding approach this season, hoping that an extended at-bat will force a pitcher to make a mistake and also run up a starter’s pitch count and force the bullpen to open. The approach would yield to runs, Kapler said. On Thursday, it did. And more runs, should mean less boos.
Published at Thu, 05 Apr 2018 22:38:31 +0000