Preview: Marlins’ 1st road trip begins with Phillies’ home opener

TV: FOX Sports Florida

TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 2:30 p.m.


Gabe Kapler can hope his first homestand as Philadelphia Phillies manager goes better than his team’s opening road trip.

The Phillies host the Miami Marlins at 3:05 p.m. ET on Thursday afternoon in their 2018 home opener. Philadelphia has won just once in five games so far under the 42-year-old Kapler, who has faced some scrutiny from fans before he’s even managed his first game at Citizens Bank Park.

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“When you hire any manager, but especially a rookie manager, we know that there is going to be a learning curve to some of this,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told earlier this week. “We also know that the first few games of the season are going to be the most heavily scrutinized games of the season because there is nothing else to look at.

“If you had a tough three-game stretch in the middle of July, but you’ve got three or four months’ worth of games to back it up, any particular move or decision is not quite as alarming.”

The Phillies dropped a pair of games against the Mets at Citi Field this week, including a 4-2 loss on Wednesday afternoon. They’ll turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta against Miami as the Phillies try to snap a three-game losing skid.

Pivetta (0-0, 6.75 ERA) threw five innings and allowed three runs on five hits in a no-decision against the Atlanta Braves during his first start of 2018. The 25-year-old faced the Marlins four times as a rookie in 2017, going 1-1 with an 8.66 ERA against Philadelphia’s divisional foe.

Miami will also be sending a second-year big leaguer to the mound. Lefty Caleb Smith (0-0, 1.69) is looking to build off a sharp 2018 debut. He struck out eight batters in 5 1/3 innings and surrendered just one run on four hits against the Chicago Cubs on March 30.

Smith threw 100 pitches in his strong debut, which was a no-decision in a game that went 17 innings. Smith made 10 appearances for the Marlins in 2017 and registered a 6.38 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, but he did not face the Phillies.

At 2-4 on the season, the Marlins are the only team ahead of the Phillies in the National League East entering Thursday’s game. Don Mattingly’s club had a welcomed off day Wednesday after the team went to extra innings three time in the season’s first week.

“The Fightin’ Fish, right? We keep coming back, the boys keep going,” Mattingly told FOX Sports Florida after Tuesday’s loss to Boston. “It’s been a little road here these first six. It’s interesting, right? The back-and-forths, the long games, three extra-inning games in here. A lot going on. But I’m really happy with the guys the way they’ve been getting after it.”

The Phillies went 11-8 against the Marlins in 2017, and they’ll try to use Thursday’s championship vibes in the City of Brotherly Love to start the divisional series off on the right foot in 2018.

The Villanova men’s basketball team is holding its national championship parade on Thursday morning in Center City Philadelphia. At Citizens Bank Park, Doug Pederson, the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.