By Chris Adamski
A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE HOME OF THE FLYERS – After Daniel Hudson had a perfect inning and Juan Nicasio retired five Phillies while throwing to only four batters (we’ll leave Tony Watson’s outing out of this for the moment), Felipe Rivero got the ball in the ninth to do his thing.
It started out well enough: a couple of 98-99 mph fastballs to Odubel Herrera before he harmlessly lifted cutter to center; then, Rivero went 1-2 on light-hitting catcher Andrew Knapp when Knapp fought off a 100.9-mph four-seamer.
But then, things unexpectedly got interesting for Rivero, he of the 0.80 ERA and .135 opponents’ average. Rivero missed on three straight fastballs, putting Knapp aborad. Then, pinch-hitter Andres Blanco fought off a 98.3-mph fastball for a single to right. That brought the tying man to the plate.
“I think (to Knapp), I think I relaxed,” Rivero said afterward. “And then Blanco came in and I know he was waiting for the fastball and I threw it so since he was waiting on it (he got a hit).”
“Then I just… [Rivero looked at me and snapped his fingers]. That quick.”
The “Enough is enough” look that Rivero had to him was noticeable even from the 100 yards or so I was away from him at the time. I asked Rivero if the two runners getting on made him angry.
“No, not angry,” he said. “It was just like that that I said: ‘That’s it. That’s it. There’s the switch, that’s it. That’s all they’re going to get.’
“I just focus on the hitter and every time something like that happens, that’s what I do. [snaps fingers]. That’s it.”
And, like the snap of some fingers, here is how Rivero finished off the Phillies:
Six pitches, six strikes, only one so much as fouled off, three swung through, two at 100-plus mph.
Did he try to rare on back a little more to hit 100-plus mph?
Rivero — who turned 26 today — laughed.
“Well… yeah,” he said with a proud, knowing grin. “I try to switch it up every once in a while.”
Finally, I asked Rivero if this, snap-fingers-“That’s it” mindset is something he adopted just since being used in a ninth-inning role.
“No. Every time,” he said. “Seventh, eighth, something like that (if) I walk a guy and then another guy hits a single or double – [snaps fingers], that’s it.”
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“I definitely want to be a guy where guys feel confident when they see me in there.”
“I’ve seen no drop-off in energy, the preparation or anything from him.”
>>> Wednesday: Pirates at Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: Josh Harrison 4, John Jaso 7, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Gregory Polanco 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Gerrit Cole (6-7, 4.51)
Phillies: Daniel Nava 7, Freddy Galvis 6, Maikel Franco 5, Tommy Joseph 3, Nick Williams 9, Andres Blanco 4, Odubel Herrera 8, Andrew Knapp 2, RHP Ben Lively (1-3, 3.72)
Gamecast: There has been a lot of feast-or-famine in Cole’s 17 starts this season: five times he’s allowed five or more runs and six times he’s allowed one or fewer runs. … The Pirates are 9-8 when Cole starts, but he is coming off allowing seven runs on 10 hits of a 13-5 loss to San Francisco on Friday. … Cole is 3-3 with a 3.45 ERA over 31 1/3 innings in six career starts against Philadelphia. He has lost his past two decisions against the Phillies. … A rookie, Lively is making his seventh MLB start. The 25-year-old entered the season as the Phillies’ 25th-ranked prospect by Baseball America. … Lively had only 13 strikeouts in 38 2/3 major-league innings, although his career minor-league strikeout ratio (8.34 per nine innings) over four years is much better.
>>> Thursday: Pirates at Phillies, 6:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.26)
Phillies: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.48)
>>> Friday: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.67)
Cubs: RHP Eddie Butler (4-3, 4.18)
>>> Saturday: Pirates at Cubs, 7:15 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Fox. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (8-6, 3.24)
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (8-6, 4.33)
>>> Sunday: Pirates at Cubs, 1:10 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root/TBS. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (4-2, 2.97 Plus Tuesday)
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (5-5, 3.94)
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.