Nola tosses a gem as Phillies split doubleheader with Yankees

Harper and Realmuto homers lift Phillies
The Phillies had an opportunity to sweep a doubleheader from the red-hot Yankees on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, but another bullpen implosion cost the club the nightcap, 3-1.

Aaron Nola was brilliant, holding the Yankees to three hits and a run over six innings. He walked none and struck out 12 with his lone blemish a first-pitch homer by Luke Voit in the second inning.

“I think the main thing was my changeup was pretty consistent tonight," Nola said. "That’s what I had back in ’18 and a couple games last year, but I think that was a separator.”

Nola was lifted after 88 pitches, and despite his outstanding performance, it was his first start coming off of 12 days' rest.

"The long layoff had everything to do with it," manager Joe Girardi said of his decision to remove Nola. "Hopefully, we'll get him to around 100 (pitches) next time. You're facing that (Yankees) team, they're stressful innings. Even if you're not giving up a lot, they're stressful innings. Long layoff, second start, you can't jeopardize his health. I have a responsibility to the organization and the fans to win games, but I also have a responsibility to the health of our players. This is their living. A lot of times you have to protect players from themselves and I take that very seriously."

Girardi entrusted Tommy Hunter with a 1-1 tie, but the veteran reliever surrendered three straight hits allowing the Yanks to pull ahead, ultimately for good. His final line was ugly; two runs on four hits without recording an out.

In an ideal world, Girardi would have turned to closer Hector Neris in that spot, however, Neris pitched in Game 1 of the doubleheader and Girardi wasn't comfortable turning to him again just hours later. Prior to Wednesday he last pitched on July 26.

"It's not what I wanted to do but they were one baserunner away from having the tying run at the plate," Girardi said, speaking of his decision to go with Neris in Game 1. "We know the power they have. It's not what I wanted to do, but when you have a chance to win a game, you have to win the game."

The Phillies bounced back from a three-run deficit in the third inning en route to an 11-7 victory in Game 1. The Phils took a commanding 11-3 lead into the final inning, but another bullpen meltdown put the outcome in jeopardy.

Austin Davis and Trevor Kelley combined to surrender four runs on six hits, allowing the Yankees to ignite a final inning comeback.

Bryce Harper hit a two-run blast for the Phils while J.T. Realmuto also homered and collected a pair of hits.

Despite the win in Game 1, the loss in the nightcap stings.

“I think you can take a lot of good from that game even though we didn't win it,” Girardi said. “You feel really good about where Aaron Nola is at. You feel really good about where [Zack] Wheeler's at. I thought Jake Arrieta threw a really good game [Monday]. We just need to continue to build on that. And if you get really, really good starts all the time, you're going to win a lot of games.”

Harper scare
The Phillies' trainer checked on Harper after he reached on a fielder's choice in the top of the sixth inning of Game 1. He initially remained in the game but was removed prior to the bottom of the frame. Harper then played in Game 2 of the twinbill.

Up next
The Phillies and Yankees conclude their four-game set on Thursday. Zach Eflin will make his 2020 debut and he'll oppose Yanks lefty Jordan Montgomery. The Phillies will welcome the Braves for a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Friday.
__________________________________
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

No comments: