Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Nola not sharp, but grinds through short 4-inning stint
PHILADELPHIA » Four wins and one loss into a season Wednesday afternoon, Aaron Nola was given an unspoken mandate for that day’s game: Dominate against the Mets’ No. 3 starter and send the Phillies onto a tough road trip with a victory.
Nola did the most important part, providing four responsible if overactive innings in an 8-2 triumph.
As for being overwhelming, that would have to happen another time.
“It was a grind,” he said. “They battled me pretty hard. I had guys on base in every inning and that kind of hurt me. I had some walks. A couple leadoff guys got on. A couple of hard-hit balls. Infield singles. “It was one of those days.” If Nola wasn’t at his best, he wasn’t bad, either. He was victimized by some infield hits, struck out five and allowed only one run.
He left after unloading 92 pitches, and then the Phils’ refurbished bullpen produced, with Connor Brogdon, Archie Bradley, Sam Coonrod and Hector Neris allowing one total run over the final five innings.
“He had to grind through,” Joe Girardi said. “His location and his stuff wasn’t sharp today. That’s the way I saw it. But he found a way to get through four innings with a high pitch count and with traffic all day, and to give up only one run.
“To me, that can be the mark of a really good pitcher, when you have the ability to do that. Because his command just wasn’t very good today.”
The odd dynamics of the early schedule, scuttled when the Mets’ opening series in Washington was postponed amid coronavirus concerns, forced the Phillies to face New York ace Jacob deGrom in their fourth game. Yet that quirk also allowed Nola Wednesday to outwork the Mets’ No. 3 starter, David Peterson.
“Overall, we got the win,” Nola said. “That’s all that matters.”
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Vince Velasquez, whose status has been plunging for years, was a mess in an 8-4 loss to the Mets Tuesday, walking four in 1.1 innings and throwing only 19 of his 40 pitches for strikes.
With a need for a long reliever, Girardi will control his April criticism.
“Your first outing, I don’t make a big deal out of,” the manager said. “And I don’t make a big deal about the first outing after the All-Star break when guys have been off. Vinny threw the ball really well in spring training, and he threw the ball very well in his first inning.
“We’re going to need Vinny. We’re going to need all these guys to contribute.”
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Chase Anderson was OK in his Phillies debut Tuesday night, scuffling through five innings, striking out three, allowing two runs. Considering the Phillies won their first four games, it was a decent firsttime spin around the rotation.
“It was really good,” Anderson said. “Nola did a great job Opening Day. (Zack) Wheeler and (Zach) Eflin were absolutely dominant. Me and Matt (Moore) just tried to do our job to stabilize the back end. But as a whole, it was a very, very good first look at the five-man rotation.”
After playing last season for Toronto,
the 33-year-old right-hander signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Phillies and won the No. 5 spot in the rotation during spring training.
“I walked two guys, and that’s not my game,” Anderson said. “That’s uncharacteristic. There will be games here and there where I walk guys. But I’m pretty much in the strike zone. Let them put the ball in play for what it’s worth.
“But it was a good start to build on.”
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Rhys Hoskins was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run Wednesday. He joined Ryan Howard, John Kruk and Del Ennis as the only Phillies with seven extrabase hits in the first six games of a season.
The only other time Hoskins collected three extra-base hits in a game was July 26, 2018, when he had a double and two home runs in Cincinnati.
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NOTES » For the first time since 2011, the last time they reached the playoffs, the Phillies won each of their first two series. … With Nola unable to go the required five innings, Brogdon improved his record to 3-0. He is the first Phillies reliever since 1901 to be the winning pitcher in his first three appearances of a season . ... After taking Thursday off, the Phils will start Wheeler (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against right-handed Charlie Morton (0-1, 5.40) Friday night at 7:20.