Phillies look to get even with Braves (Mar 29, 2018)

March 29, 2018

ATLANTA -- Nick Pivetta hopes to pick up this season for the Philadelphia Phillies where he left off a year ago. Mike Foltynewicz wants to match the way he pitched in the middle of last season for the Atlanta Braves.

The young right-handers will be matched Friday night as the Phillies and Braves play the middle contest of their three-game opening series at SunTrust Park.

Pivetta ended his up-and-down rookie season with a 16-inning scoreless streak and had 19 strikeouts in his final three starts, allowing two runs, 11 hits and eight walks over 17 innings.

"It's nice to look back at that and see where I finished and move forward," the 25-year-old Canadian said. "I think my curveball got a lot better. I got more consistent with my slider. But I think out of all of them, I think my fastball just got more consistent in the zone. I was able to put guys away with more quality pitches."

Despite his strong finish, Pivetta had a 6.02 ERA to go with his 8-10 record. Only six pitchers with 100 or more innings had a higher ERA than Pivetta.

The 2013 fourth-round draft choice of Washington, though, was good in all season against the Braves, going 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA.

Two of the starts came in Atlanta, including a six-inning scoreless stint in his next-to-last outing of the year.

Foltynewicz was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Phillies and is 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA in seven career outings.

The 26-year-old former Houston Astros first-round draft choice worked seven innings in each of his first two starts against the Phillies last year, allowed eight hits and a run, but gave up seven hits and five runs at Philadelphia on July 31.

That start came after Foltynewicz had won six consecutive decisions, including a game at Oakland in which he took a no-hitter to the ninth inning before giving up a leadoff homer.

In an attempt to be more consistent, Foltynewicz has gone to a modified stretch even when runners aren't on base.

"It's just to keep things quiet," Foltynewicz said. "In the past, I had too many unnecessary moving parts."

Foltynewicz didn't allow a run during spring training until a bad second inning against Detroit in his final start.

"Ever since we started (going from the stretch), everything has been downhill with a great angle and great everything," Foltynewicz said. "Out of the stretch, everything is perfect."

The Braves spoiled the managerial debut of the Phillies' Gabe Kapler in the opener Thursday, rallying from a five-run deficit for an 8-5 victory on Nick Markakis' three-run homer off Hector Neris in the bottom of the ninth.

It was the 10th walk-off hit for Markakis, beginning his 13th season, but his first with a home run.

"A lot of emotions flying around right now," Markakis said after the blast. "It was a great win."

The comeback was the Braves' largest for an opener in modern franchise history (since 1990) thanks to the first game-ending homer and third walkoff win since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966.

"The way we came back and won it does a lot for a team," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Nick is someone I always trust."