By Sam Bush
So, the Phillies came home yesterday for their home opener against the Miami Marlins.
On a day that already had a buzz because of the Villanova victory parade, which took place earlier.
And you knew the fans were going to boo newbie Phils manager Gabe Kapler, who has gotten off to an inauspicious start.
And boo they did.
But you didn’t know they would wind up giving a standing O to starting pitcher Nick Pivetta!
The Kapler booing began during pre-game introductions, and they intensified when he pulled Pivetta in the sixth inning with a shutout intact, as he yanked Aaron Nola in last week’s season opener.
The big difference yesterday was that the bullpen held on Thursday for a 5-0 win.
“They cheer for the players,” Kapler said. “I’ll take that.”
Maikel Franco homered, tripled, singled and drove in four runs to boost the Phillies.
“Whenever people are unhappy, I’ll always ask myself why and if there’s anything I can do to adjust accordingly,” Kapler said. “I’m gonna work my tail off for these fans. Hopefully, over the course of the season, they will learn to trust my process is strong.”
Pivetta fanned nine in 5 2/3 excellent innings, allowing four hits and no walks. Fans quickly went from booing Kapler to giving Pivetta a nice ovation while the skipper waited on the mound for reliever Adam Morgan to enter the game. Morgan retired the four batters he faced and Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined on the four-hitter.
“It was the right move,” Pivetta said. “Gabe is an awesome manager. He always has our backs.”
The Phillies won a home opener for the first time since 2011, improving to 4-11 in 15 at Citizens Bank Park.
Marlins starter Caleb Smith (0-1) allowed three runs and two hits in three innings. Three of the six batters he walked scored. Smith has nine walks in 8 1/3 innings in two starts.
“He didn’t have a good feel for the ball,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He had trouble getting untracked.”
Franco, who was 1 for 11 coming in, fell a double short of the cycle. He lined a two-run single to left after falling behind 0-2 in the count with two outs in the first to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Smith loaded the bases on three walks.
Odubel Herrera hit an RBI single up the middle to drive in Scott Kingery for a 3-0 lead in the third.
Franco hit a triple to deep center in the fifth and launched a two-run shot to left off Jarlin Garcia in the seventh.
“I’m just trying to see the ball and out good contact on it,” Franco said.
Hip-hop music blared in a dim clubhouse as colorful laser lights bounced off the ceiling as players walked in after the game.
“When we win, we have to have fun,” Franco said.