Key Phillies Headed in Different Directions as Important May Begins

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WASHINGTON - From those who struggled in April to those who found success, May is an important month for several Phillies.

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One of the Phils' key players to watch is Nick Pivetta, who was so good in the season's first month, posting a 3.27 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with more than a strikeout per inning in his first six starts.

Just looking at the schedule as the calendar flipped, you could tell Pivetta was in for some challenges. The way it lines up, Pivetta will have road starts this month against the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers with a pair of games against AL East teams in the Orioles and Blue Jays.

The second month of Pivetta's second major-league season is off to a rocky start. He lasted just one inning Friday night in D.C., allowing six runs and eight base runners as the Phillies lost, 7-3 (see first take).

Pivetta is the first Phillies starting pitcher in 358 games dating back to September 2015 to last just one inning despite not suffering an injury.

"The stuff tonight was crisp. I think he just kind of ran into a buzzsaw," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Some guys were swinging the bats really well and he sort of wasn't able to climb out of it."

Pivetta fell behind hitters and fell victim to a heating Nats lineup. Washington, even without Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton, has won six in a row and thrived offensively with Bryce Harper in the leadoff spot.

Harper homered twice off Pivetta Friday night, with the second jack traveling 473 feet. 

"He's a good hitter. He's on fire right now," Pivetta said. "I had some success against him earlier, but he got me tonight. It's just the way baseball goes sometimes.

"I just look at this as a bad day at work. It wasn't my best. The worst thing I could do is beat myself up more about it, but the great thing is I get to pitch in five days. 

"I'm going to be fine. I've been through it before. It's part of it. I'll work hard and get back at it. I'll start in five days and it'll be fun."

Two other players who need to get on track this month are Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco, who both crushed home runs of their own. Santana's went 445 feet, Franco's went 404, and both had exit velocities over 107 mph.

For Santana, it was his first game as a Phillie with multiple extra-base hits. For Franco, it makes six extra-base hits in his last six games. Franco was robbed of a homer when Matt Adams jumped over the left-field wall in the fourth inning, but later homered and doubled to the opposite field.

"Maikel's swing looked tremendous tonight. More than the ball he hit out and the ball he almost hit out that Adams caught, the last ball he hit (opposite-field double) was a good sign for him," Kapler said. "Really stayed true, had a lot of carry on it against a right-handed pitcher. Across the board, I thought these were really good at-bats.

"And nice to see Carlos really get into a ball. I think that was really important for his psyche and confidence and we're hoping that he's gonna be able to build on that tomorrow."

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