By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor
After blowing a five-run lead to the Atlanta Braves (1-0) on Opening Day, Gabe Kapler and the Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) will look to rebound behind RHP Nick Pivetta Friday evening at SunTrust Park. Pivetta will oppose five-year veteran RHP Mike Foltynewicz.
Phillies No. 2. Scott Kingery prospect will make his first big league start, batting sixth as the third baseman in lieu of Maikel Franco. Starting for the Braves at the hot corner is Ryan Flaherty, who appeared this spring with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee. Catcher Andrew Knapp will make his second start for the Phillies in as many games, instead of No. 7 prospect Jorge Alfaro.
Left fielder Rhys Hoskins provided the Phillies an early 1-0 lead in Thursday's season opener with a two-out RBI double in the first. The score remained the same until the the sixth: second baseman Cesar Hernandez went yard — his second straight home run on Opening Day — Franco walked with the bases loaded and Knapp hit a RBI single. Kapler pulled starter RHP Aaron Nola despite logging 6 1/3 shutout innings on 68 pitches (48 strikes), and the club's 5-0 lead soon evaporated after. In relief, LHP Hoby Milner allowed his inherited runner to score, along with another, while LHP Adam Morgan and RHP Hector Neris allowed two and three earned runs, respectively.
Friday will be a rare, next-day game following Opening Day, as there is usually a built-in rain date on day No. 2 of the regular season for teams to avoid a doubleheader at the onset of the season. The Braves opted instead to have the off-day on Easter Sunday, noted the Phillies radio broadcast. Ten other games (20 teams) will also take place on Friday.
The Phillies have lost five of their last six games against the Braves dating back to August 30th's doubleheader last season. The Phillies are 5-5 all-time at SunTrust Park.
Starting Pitching Matchup:
RHP Nick Pivetta, Age: 25
Pivetta enters the 2018 season with some momentum, after tossing two straight scoreless spring appearances on March 21 (two innings against Toronto Blue Jays) and March 25 (three innings against Baltimore Orioles). The right-hander struck out 17 batters in 18 1/3 innings, but surrendered a team-high four home runs.
Last season as a rookie, the Victoria, Canada, native punched out 140 batters in 133 innings and 26 starts, however he posted an unfavorable 6.02 ERA and 1.511 WHIP. The Phillies acquired Pivetta from the Washington Nationals in July of 2015 in exchange for franchise saves leader Jonathan Papelbon.
RHP Mike Foltynewicz, Age: 26
The Sterling, Illinois, native thrived in this year's Grapefruit League season, posting a 3.38 ERA, .196 opposing batting average and 1.00 WHIP through five starts and 16 innings. Foltynewicz had a 0.00 ERA after his first four starts (14 innings), but surrendered six runs in two frames during his last spring appearance on March 25 against the Detroit Tigers.
Foltynewicz struck out 143 batters in 154 innings and 29 games last season for the Braves.