Final Score: Phillies 4, Braves 1
Aaron Nola entered tonight’s ballgame with a 1-4 record and a 3.96 ERA, but his stuff has passed the eye-test, and he’s been snakebitten by bad luck in terms of run support and hitters getting positive results on soft contact.
Tonight, Nola was masterful, keeping Braves hitters off-balance all evening and limiting traffic on the base paths en route to his second victory of the season, and his first since opening day.
The win notched the Phillies a split of this four-game series with the Braves, and they are now 21-24 as they head to New York for a series against the Mets, who are 7.5 games clear of the Phils atop the division entering the weekend.
Efficiency is the name of the game
In the current age of baseball, pitchers have a shorter leash than ever, and high pitch counts routinely force pitchers out of games early. Tonight, Nola kept his pitch count in check, throwing 13 pitches or less in all but one inning he pitched, with his longest inning being a 16-pitch seventh.
Nola was getting ahead in counts, only falling behind 2-0 twice, and he had Braves hitters looking silly all night long.
He had his strikeout stuff working, with seven of the nines Braves starters striking out at least once. This was Nola’s first double-digit strikeout start of the season, and the 23rd of his career.
Tonight marked the fourth time in Nola’s career that he has pitched eight or more innings and struck out eight or more batters against the Braves, and his shutdown performance was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Phils.
The perplexing nature of Odúbel Herrera’s play
When Odúbel Herrera steps on the baseball field, it’s best to expect the unexpected. One day he’s swinging at a pitch that bounces through his legs, but he can come back the next night with a big hit to give the Phillies the lead.
Herrera provided half of the Phillies offense on Wednesday, with his home run putting them on the board, and a single that knocked in Segura in the fourth. But one inning later, the ball went right through his legs in center field to give the Braves a lead which they never surrendered.
Tonight, Herrera slapped a double into right field with two outs in the seventh inning that brought home two runs and gave Nola a three-run cushion.
Herrera has played in 781 games as a Phillie, so he has shown who he is as a player, and the best way to describe him would be as consistently inconsistent. With Mickey Moniak on a rehab assignment in Reading, it seems that another body is about to enter the Phillies center field competition, which will likely mean less playing time for Herrera.
When he’s hot, Herrera is a solid bottom of the order hitter who can hit the ball hard and send it a long way, but he’s hot as often as he’s ice cold, and he frequently does things that you’ll rarely see in a major-league game.
Shibe Vintage Sports Notes
- Dating back to May 5, Bryce Harper has a hit in 13 of his last 15 games, and nine of those are multi-hit games. After returning from his PRP injection, Harper has quickly returned to form.
- Nola’s career ERA against the Atlanta Braves is now 3.21, and he is 13-8 in 26 starts against them. His career ERA is 3.21 against both the Braves and the Mets.
- Tonight was Nola’s fourth time pitching into the ninth inning in his career, and the second time he has done so against the Braves. On August 25, 2021, Nola pitched 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory.
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Friday, May 27 vs. New York Mets at Citi Field
- 7:10 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: Sportsradio 94 WIP
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