Phillies Saturday Notes: Nola continues to impress Kapler

Aaron Nola goes three innings for the Phillies
Aaron Nola pieced together perhaps the best start of any pitcher this spring for the Phillies, tossing three innings on Friday to lead the club to a 9-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The win snapped a five-game losing skid.

Nola needed 38 pitches to get through the three innings. He surrendered two runs on three hits. He walked none and struck out two.

"I thought [Nola] was sharp," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's critical of himself, but I thought his curveball looked good. Kranny [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and I were watching. ... Command, feel for his pitches, changing speeds, he's just a stud."

The start marked the first time this spring a Phillies starter has gone three innings.

“It’s the more I throw it in game situations as I try to get the shape back and get it to where it usually is,” Nola said of his curve. “It felt good coming out of my hand. There’s still some things I need to work on with it, but that’s going to come.”

Nola surrendered a first-inning triple to West Chester product Joey Wendle, who later scored on a Wilson Ramos groundout.

Nola, 24, will be the Phillies' youngest Opening Day starter since Dennis Bennett in 1964 when he takes the ball for the opener in Atlanta on March 29.

"It means a lot," Nola said. There's a lot of really good pitchers that start Opening Day that are on different teams' staffs. It's definitely an honor.

"But, you know, it's another game that I have to go out and focus on. Yeah, it's Opening Day, but I'm going to do my part and do everything I can to get the team a win."

At the Plate
Scott Kingery continued to swing a hot bat, homering to the opposite side of the field for his third blast this week. He's ticketed to open the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he's showing he belongs in Philadelphia sooner rather than later.

In the Field
Odubel Herrera played four innings in center field, marking his first defensive action of the spring. He's been slowed by a sore shoulder as part of his new throwing regimen, but neither him or Kapler have any concerns about his readiness for Opening Day.

Up Next
The Phillies have split-squad games on Saturday - Ben Lively will face the Pirates in Bradenton, and Tom Eshelman will face the Orioles in Clearwater.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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