Pivetta and Franco star as Phillies win home opener over Marlins

Nick Pivetta helps Phillies to home opener win
The Phillies relied on a strong performance from starting pitcher Nick Pivetta and an offensive outburst from Maikel Franco to secure a 5-0 win over the Marlins on Thursday in their home opener at Citizens Bank Park.

Pivetta, who entered the contest with less than stellar career numbers against the Fish, tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings while surrendering just four hits. He struck out nine and threw 97 pitches.

“Everything was in or around the zone, keeping hitters off balance with a little stop, start or gas pedal, brake, but really demonstrating a lot of character and conviction out there on the mound,” manager Gabe Kapler said following the victory. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to push him up above 90 pitches because he just demonstrated consistent control of the game all the way through. Really impressive performance by Nick." (see video from Kapler's postgame press conference below.)

Using Bill James' Game Score metric as a barometer (Game Score defined), Thursday's performance was the second best of Pivetta's career behind only a seven-inning start last June against the Red Sox where he didn't allow a run and surrendered only four hits. He finished that contest with a 76, on Thursday he ended with a 75.

Kapler lifted Pivetta with two outs in the sixth with a runner on first, but this move was understandable as the Marlins' biggest power threat in Justin Bour was scheduled to hit next. A potential homer would have made it a one-run game and altered the entire afternoon.



Regardless of the validity of the decision, Kapler was met with boos as he walked out of the dugout to make the change. Those boos quickly turned to cheers though as Pivetta headed to the Phillies dugout.

"They cheer for the players and that's what matters the most," Kapler said. "If that's the ultimate outcome, if every day they are cheering for the players, I'll take that 100-percent. I'll wear that."

The move worked perfectly for Kapler though as Adam Morgan struck out Bour and remained in the contest to pitch another inning. He, along with Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined to pitch 4 1/3 perfect innings while striking out three.

As for Franco, he finished the day a double shy of hitting for the cycle. He drove in the Phillies first two runs with a single to left in the opening frame and hit a two-run blast in the seventh that landed about 15 rows into the seats in left field. He also tripled in the fifth on a ball that clanged off the middle of center field fence just to the right of the 409-foot marker.

Odubel Herrera chipped in with a pair of hits, including an RBI-single in the third inning.

The win snapped a six-game skid for the Phillies in losing home openers.

Did You Notice?
The Phillies forced Marlins' hurlers to toss 177 pitches on the afternoon and worked nine walks. Entering play the club led the majors in pitches seen per plate appearance with 4.39. Despite the early offensive struggles, the club has shown patience at the plate.

Quotable
"Do something fun when you win, so you win more," reliever Tommy Hunter said. "You want to come up in a big situation so you get called out in front of the guys. It creates at atmosphere of always wanting to be the guy to step up in that situation." - speaking about the laser light machine and fog witnessed in the Phillies' clubhouse following the win. (Credit Todd Zolecki, MLB.com)
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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