Nick Pivetta walked off the mound on Friday night as the Citizens Bank Park grounds crew rushed the field. The righthander had breezed through the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss to the Padres. He had exhausted 99 pitches but manager Pete Mackanin still planned to give Pivetta a crack at the eighth.
And then Mother Nature intervened. The grounds crew rolled a tarp over the infield before Pivetta could even get seated in the dugout. His night – another promising start – was finished and another Phillies loss – their 57th of the season – would be delayed.
Pivetta allowed three runs, struck out nine and walked none as he logged seven innings for the second-straight start. Pivetta's night would be spoiled by Hector Neris, who coughed up the winning run in the ninth. Pivetta gave up just five hits but three of them were solo homers. The homers were his lone mistakes as Pivetta flashed glimmers of promise that he could claim a spot at the top of the team's rotation.
"Two of the three home runs were on a hanging curveball and a hanging slider, the other was an elevated fastball," manager Pete Mackanin said. "But he threw some good ones. He pitched very well and should've won."
The righthander has allowed four earned runs in his last 14 innings since being roasted by Arizona on June 26 for six runs in less than three innings. Pivetta could have folded, but instead showed his poise. He allowed just five hits on Friday. His home runs were his lone mistakes. The Phillies have debuted nine players this season. More will be on their way soon. It will be hard to top the impression made by Pivetta.
"It's just settling in," Pivetta said. "I have more innings underneath my belt. I've seen a little bit more. I still have a lot to work on. But I think this is a good base for where I'm at right now and I want to keep moving forward."
The Phillies rallied to score twice after Pivetta was lifted as they emerged with fervor from a 90-minute rain delay. Cameron Rupp dropped a single into shallow left field and Nick Williams followed with a pinch-hit double off the right-field wall. Daniel Nava grounded out to the pitcher, allowing Rupp to score. Freddy Galvis then lashed a game-tying single to score Williams.
Neris yielded the winning run to Austin Hedges, who tagged Pivetta for two homers and finished with three RBIs. Pat Neshek needed just 12 pitches to complete a scoreless eighth in what is likely his last appearance before the All Star break. His 1.31 ERA would be the seventh-lowest by a Phillies pitcher in the first half.
Tommy Joseph doubled in the second and homered in the fourth. It was the lone run the Phillies would score before the delay. Each of Joseph's last four hits have went for extra bases. He reached base four times on Friday. It is no secret that the Phillies will try to move Joseph before the July 31 trade deadline to free a role for Rhys Hoskins. Joseph helped build his value on Friday. He has a .778 OPS, hits for power, plays a solid first base, and is under team control until 2023. The Phillies should be able to find a trade partner.
"That's not anything I can control," Joseph said. "I have the opportunity to play first base for the Philadelphia Phillies and I'm going to make the most of that opportunity. This is a great team to be apart of and a great city to play for. I'm enjoying that everyday. Rhys Hoskins is a great player and that decision is going to be up to them, not me."