Looking to snap a four-game losing streak, the Philadelphia Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park to host the Miami Marlins Friday. In the midst of the lowest valley of the 2019 season, it felt like a game where Aaron Nola, who has regressed after a dominant 2018, needed to be a stopper for the Phillies. He was that Friday, but unfortunately for the Phillies, their offense remained too stagnant to take advantage of it.
The Marlins got on the board first in the top of the second, as Bryan Holiday launched a 382-foot solo home run off of Nola:
Aaron Nola is making his 16th start of 2019 tonight and this is the 14th home run he’s allowed. Through 16 starts last year, he gave up just six home runs. pic.twitter.com/fIBMotiVfg
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) June 22, 2019
While the pace that he limited home runs early in the 2018 season probably wasn’t sustainable, Holiday’s home run was the 14th that Nola has surrendered in 2019. Friday was Nola’s 16th start in 2019. A year ago, he had only allowed six home runs after 16 starts. He’s very likely to pass the amount of home runs he gave up all of 2018 (17) before the All-Star Break.
Nola settled in, though, and it didn’t take the Phillies long to even things up.
In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on the corners, Jay Bruce struck out and Bryce Harper successfully stole second base. With the Marlins selling out to try to nab Harper at second and end the inning, Roman Quinn, one of the faster players in the sport, had an easy trip home:
Roman Quinn trots home on back-end of a double steal with the hustling Bryce Harper as the Phillies tie this one up at 1-1. pic.twitter.com/zG5Mf1qzPa
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) June 22, 2019
An inning later, Bryce Harper came up with two outs and the bases loaded. While a majority of the sellout crowd Friday came to watch Chase Utley’s retirement ceremony, they would have been glad to erupt if the most notable player on the current installment of the Phillies gave them a reason to. For a second it appeared Harper did that, as he skied the first pitch he saw to right field. Ultimately, though, Harper got under the ball too much, and it died before the warning track, allowing Cesar Puello to put it away.
Failing to convert with runners in scoring position doomed the Phillies Friday evening, as they went just 2-12 with runners in scoring position Friday.
The Marlins re-took the lead in the sixth inning, though, as Puello grounded into a fielder’s choice, which allowed Brian Anderson to score from third base. The run wasn’t ultimately charged to Nola because Scott Kingery seemingly would have had a play at the plate had he completed the exchange getting the ball out of his glove. Instead, the run that turned out to be the game-winner.
Before the end of the sixth, Bryan Holaday nearly gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead, as he hit a ball to the warning track in left field. Jay Bruce was ultimately able to put the ball away on the warning track, and throw to second where Puello had actually passed Starlin Castro on the basepaths, not realizing that the inning wasn’t over.
The Phillies last, best chance to even the game came in the bottom of the eighth, as Don Mattingly pulled Sandy Alcantara, who was strong Friday, with runners on the corners and two outs. Though Gabe Kapler initially tabbed Brad Miller to pinch-hit, he pivoted when the Marlins brought in lefty Jose Quijada, instead choosing to use Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez, with Maikel Franco on the bench, struck out to end the threat.
In the ninth inning, Sergio Romo converted on the save attempt, despite Harper nearly tying the game with a ball that died at the warning track in center field. With two outs, Hoskins did single into left field, but ultimately Bruce fouled into foul territory to end the game.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
- The good news from tonight’s game is that Nola’s curveball was tremendous, and as Tom McCarthy noted on the telecast, he struck out 10 batters in a game for the 10th time in his career. Nola absolutely deserved to win Friday night, and the Phillies needed an outing like this.
- The bad news from tonight’s game is that Nola gave up a home run in the second inning and very nearly allowed one in the sixth, one that would have given the Marlins a 5-1 lead. Certainly, there’s something to be said for the fact that Holaday’s ball didn’t ultimately leave the park, but given his trend of allowing home runs in 2019, it’s hard to completely dismiss it.
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Sandy Alcantara
- Alcantara, who it feels like has made every start of his career against the Phillies, was strong Friday night. He probably wasn’t as good as Nola, but he scattered eight hits and struck out six, while only allowing one run in seven-and-two-thirds innings. The Phillies lack of timely hitting is likely the reason that he, and not Nola, is given this honor tonight.
- Saturday June 22 vs. Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park
- 4:05 p.m. ET
- NBC Sports Philadelphia
- SportsRadio 94 WIP
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