Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta was brilliant Thursday against the Orioles, striking out 11 in seven innings before leaving with a 4-1 lead. The Phillies went on to win 4-1, too, but not before manager Gabe Kapler used four similarly talented right-handed relievers to finish it off.
Here’s how it went:
Tommy Hunter: 1/3 IP, allowed two hits
Luis Garcia: 2/3 IP, allowed one walk
Edubray Ramos: 2/3 IP, struck out both batters he faced
Hector Neris: 1/3 IP, game-ending groundout
The move in the eighth made some sense, given that Hunter had allowed two of the three batters he faced to reach. Still, why take Garcia out after two outs afterwards if you’re not going to go to your closer? And why remove Ramos after two strikeouts in a three-run game. Not that we like it when managers manage to their players’ statistics, but that switch cost Ramos what would have been his second career save, and it didn’t earn one for Neris, since he would have needed to pitch the full inning (or enter with men on base) to pick up the save in a three-run game.
So, Kapler used four relievers even though the Phillies are due to play eight straight days. Maybe it was what he wanted to do going in; the Phillies had Monday off and were rained out Tuesday, so the guys hadn’t pitched in a while. Still, one imagines they’ll all be busy this weekend with four games against the Cardinals beginning tomorrow.
The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.
However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”
Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.
Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.
Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.
No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.