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The first one is always the hardest: Phillies 5, Braves 4

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Well, it’s never boring!

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If nothing else in this extremely young season, we can assume two things are going to happen in the greater Philadelphia area. One, the demand for boxes of hair coloring will increase as people seek a way to cover up the grays that will be caused by this team. Two, sales on Pepto Bismol will also skyrocket if this keeps up.

Rhys Hoskins opened up the scoring for the Phillies tonight, hitting his first homerun of 2018 into the left field bleachers in the top of the second inning, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta looked sharp early, cruising through the first two innings, aided by a nifty little strike ‘em out-throw ‘em out by Andrew Knapp and Scott Kingery that put an end to an early rally.

The third inning saw Carlos Santana get his first RBI as a Phillie when he hit a deep sacrifice fly to score J.P. Crawford. The bottom half of the inning saw Pivetta become the Pivetta we’ve seen before, where the ability to locate pitches and stay in the strike zone eluded him for a decent stretch. A single and a double gave the Braves their first run, while a sacrifice fly by Ender Inciarte scored Phillies spring training hero turned Braves scrap heap pickup Ryan Flaherty. It tied the game at two a piece.

In the fourth, Kingery got that highly anticipated first hit, singling up the middle. Unfortunately, the Braves would tack on another run in the bottom part, when a Dansby Swanson single scored Kurt Suzuki, making the score 3-2, Atlanta. It would be the final inning for Pivetta, who finished with allowing five hits, three runs, two walks and three strikeouts on 73 pitches.

Santana wouldn’t have to wait long to get his second RBI when he homered in the top of the fifth, tying the game at three. It would stay that way until the sixth when Aaron Altherr walked, stole second and then scored on Nick Williams’s pinch hit single, pushing the Phillies in front, 4-3.

Then the Kapler that is beginning to emerge got a little frustrating.

Having brought Hoby Milner in the game in the fifth to face Freddie Freeman, he was pinch hit for by Williams. Then Adam Morgan was brought in to face Preston Tucker and Swanson in the sixth, followed by Flaherty in the seventh before being removed for Yacksel Rios in the same inning. This torching of his two lefties came back to bite them when Freeman reached on a walk by Luis Garcia in the eighth, then tied the game on a hit by Tucker later in the inning. The need to burn those lefties so early was exacerbated by Pivetta again failing to deliver innings, but so far, Kapler seems to be lacking some foresight in his bullpen usage that is costing him games.

The game turned when the Phillies successfully challenged a potential winning run being scored at the plate that was overturned to an out call when it became obvious Knapp nicked a sliding Peter Bourjos just before his backfoot caught the plate. It would loom large.

The game would stay tied until the 11th inning, when back to back hits put Crawford and Cesar Hernandez on the corners for Santana. Mercifully, he came through, getting a sacrifice fly to score Crawford and put the Phillies up, 5-4. Drew Hutchison, who started the 10th, shut the door with a bottom half of the inning that got the blood up a bit to close out Kapler’s first win as Phillies manager.

Let’s hope tomorrow is much easier.

Game Highlights

  • Kingery thought he also had his first stolen base of his career, but the official scorer pooped his pants and called the play a “wild pitch/E2”. Which was dumb.
  • Kapler’s challenge early in the game was, apparently, both see if the runner left early on a tag and a rule check. Which is a thing.