Led by their ace Aaron Nola, the Philadelphia Phillies (65-60) held on to take the first of two against the Boston Red Sox (67-60) at Fenway Park. Nola was in top form once again, only giving up two earned runs over seven dominant innings. The Phillies offense came through in the first, but cooled off considerably as the game went along. A few key defensive plays, along with two horrendous base running mistakes from the Red Sox ultimately pushed the Phillies to victory in the later innings.
The Phillies wasted no time going to work at the plate tonight. Lead-off man Rhys Hoskins drew a six-pitch walk. A rehydrated Bryce Harper then followed up with a double down the left field line to place runners at first and third for clean-up hitter Jean Segura. Segura promptly smacked a hanging slider off the Green Monster in left-center field to give the Phillies an early two run lead. The team added on another when Scott Kingery drove in Segura from third on an RBI single to left.
Nola needed only 25 pitches to get through the first two innings. He kept the BoSox out of the hit column until the third inning when Mitch Moreland notched a single to left field. Two batters later, Jackie Bradley, Jr. would get the Red Sox on the board and cut the Phillies lead down to just one with a 402 ft. home run to the bullpen in right-center field:
Jackie Bradley Hr. pic.twitter.com/X3ufluPvF4
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 21, 2019
The bottom of the Red Sox lineup threatened again in the fifth. Christian Vazquez began the inning by hitting a sharp line drive to the Monster in left-center field for a double. Nola quickly shut down the threat, using just seven pitches to get Boston’s 7-8-9 hitters out.
The BoSox would get another runner into scoring position and fail to capitalize again in the sixth. Last year’s American League MVP Mookie Betts began the inning with a single and easily stole second after five Nola pick-off moves. Betts would eventually be left stranded on second as Nola would set down Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez in order.
The Phillies offense didn’t fair much better either. After putting up a three-spot in the first inning, the bats went silent. The last Phillies hit came in the fourth inning off a Rhys Hoskins infield hit that barely stayed faired. Hoskins would be the last Phillie runner to get on base until the ninth when Adam Haseley worked out a two-out walk. Tonight however, it didn’t seem to matter much as the first inning offensive burst was all that Nola needed to carry the team to victory. Jose Alvarez, Mike Morin and Hector Neris combined to pitch three scoreless innings to emphatically close the door on the Red Sox.
Neris save did not come easy as Bogaerts began the inning with a lead-off double. Bogaerts then made a horrendous base running error when he opted to go to third on a ground ball to Segura instead of staying put, giving the Phillies an easy first out at third. Martinez, who reached on the fielder’s choice, was then replaced by pinch-runner Chris Owings who make another poor decision on the base paths as he was doubled up between first and second to end the game.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Brian Johnson: 3.2 IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4SO
Aaron Nola: 7 IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7SO
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Aaron Nola
At this point of the season, it’s pretty much a given that Nola’s going to the best player on the field on any day he’s pitching. He absolutely has to be if the Phillies plan to be playing baseball in October. Nola fooled Red Sox hitters with his curveball and was able to work around any sort of trouble he found himself in. Gabe Kapler spoke briefly today about the possibility of starting Nola every five days, saying it’s a likelihood. Nola’s outing today is an indicator that he’s more than prepared to carry the workload and hopefully, lead his team to a Wild Card berth.
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Wednesday August 21 at 7:10 vs. Boston Red Sox @ Fenway Park
- NBC Sports Philadelphia; MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Sportsradio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)