By Theo DeRosa, Sports Talk Philly staff
Final: Braves 15, Phillies 2
ATLANTA — Gabe Kapler stood on the mound, waiting.
The Phillies' manager, a veteran skipper of not quite 21 innings, had just pulled scuffling starter Vince Velasquez and called for left-handed reliever Hoby Milner in the bottom of the third inning of the Phils' series finale in Atlanta. But Milner, who hadn't even been throwing from the bullpen mound, was unprepared. Kapler kept waiting for him.
Braves manager Brian Snitker, incensed by Kapler's prolonged presence on the field, confronted second-base umpire Jerry Lane. For the second time in three games, Snitker was tossed. Lane and the umpiring crew, dismayed by the wait, limited the amount of Milner's warm-up pitches.
All the chaos of the scene may have been a distraction from a night where Phillies pitching took its early-season inconsistencies to new heights, or perhaps new lows. Velasquez couldn't finish the third inning, in which the Braves scored four runs. Atlanta iced the game and the season's first series with another big inning in the sixth.
The Braves pulled away to a 15-2 win, but not before the Phillies turned to utility man Pedro Florimón on the mound in the eighth. Florimón gave up a two-run homer for the last Atlanta runs of the series.
WP: Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 3.38 ERA) ❖ LP: Vince Velasquez (0-1, 10.50 ERA)
Hub: Game Summary ❖ Starting Pitchers ❖ At the Plate ❖ Bullpen ❖ What's Next
The issues faced by Velasquez in the first two innings were largely results of bad luck. Two of Atlanta's first three hits were high choppers; one hit the first-base bag and caromed away for an Ozzie Albies triple, while the other was a Baltimore Chop up the middle for an infield hit. Later, Atlanta got a hit when a ground ball hit second base and rolled into right center field.
Many Braves hits seemed to find a hole in the defense, but the defense created its own holes. The Phillies' four errors made already-ugly matters yet worse, contributing to the Braves' offensive explosion.
For the Phillies, the entirety of the offense came in the first inning. Rhys Hoskins stayed hot with an RBI single and Aaron Altherr beat out a double play to bring in Odúbel Herrera.
Rookie Scott Kingery started for the second straight game, this time at shortstop. He proved that his early exposure to the major leagues remains justified with a two-double night, including battling back from an 0-2 count for his second two-bagger.
With the early hook of Aaron Nola on Thursday and the tribulations of Nick Pivetta and Velasquez, Kapler's nine-man bullpen is already taxed. Kapler called on five relievers on Saturday. Jake Thompson made his first appearance of the season; Hoby Milner pitched for the third straight day.
Lane Adams launched a two-run shot off of Pedro Florimón, who completed the bottom of the eighth with no further damage.
The Phillies have a day off before another in-division road series, a three-game set with the New York Mets (2-0). Former phenom Matt Harvey will face off with the Phils' Ben Lively.
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At the Plate