By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—Phillies rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone did not disgrace himself at all in his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates with family in attendance.
In fact, he looked like a seasoned veteran and did everything he could on his end. He had six strikeouts with no walks while giving up two runs and in five and one-thirds innings.
On offense, Pettibone walked and scored a run. It was a pretty good evening for a 22-year-old youngster making his first start in the majors.
In frigid temperatures more suited for Monday Night Football than the warm-weather game of baseball, the Phillies left a bunch of men on base and still somehow came away with a 3-2 win over the Pirates in front of 35, 385 cold fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.
“(Pettibone) did fine for his first time pitching in the big leads. He made some good pitches at times,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who managed Pettibone’s father Jay Pettibone in the minor leagues. “Early in the game, they hit some balls hard on him. He got them out when he had to, too.”
He did give up a pair of solo homeruns to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the second inning and catcher Russell Martin in the fifth. Other than that, he pitched well enough to win. It was too bad he wound up with a no-decision.
“I didn’t want to pick around the strike zone,” Pettibone said. “I wanted to get ahead of guys and go after guys. That was my game plane. I just pitched to my strengths and went after these guys. Whatever happens, happens.”
What also helped Pettibone was some good plays in the field including a spectacular one-handed diving catch by rightfielder John Mayberry Jr. in the first inning when the Pirates had a man on second.
“That was great, it saved a run,” said Pettibone, who struggled in his first two starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. “Who knows what would have happened continuing from that inning. It was a big play.”
Even though the Phillies had guys reaching base, they could not get that one big hit to break open the game. The Phils scored their first two runs without getting a bat on the ball. They got their first run in the third inning on a wild pitch by Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett that scored Pettibone.
The second came in the fourth inning when Burnett hit shortstop Jimmy Rollins with the pitch while the bases were loaded. In the sixth, Rollins would put the Phillies ahead on an RBI single to right field that scored Erik Kratz, who reached on a two-out walk.
“We’ve have to win one-run games,” Manuel said. “We’ll get good pitching like we did tonight, but we have to win games. We’ve had some low-(scoring) games and we hadn’t been able to win many of those games. That’s probably the different between having a winning record and being a couple of games below .500.”
The Pirates had one last chance to tie it in their half of the ninth when first baseman Garrett Jones smacked a one-out double to right. But Papelbon got second baseman Neil Walker to fly out to left and then struck out Alvarez to end the game.
After Pettibone left the mound in the sixth, the Phillies bullpen combination of Raul Valdes, who got the win; Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Papelbon allowed just two hits in the final two and thirds innings.