It’s been a struggle for this Phillies team to maintain a string of success, but when Aaron Nola is in your rotation, at least you know you’ve got a good chance to start again every five days.
That’s an extremely crucial component for the Phillies moving forward. Nola is one of the few reasons that this team is able to talk about the postseason without a studio audience bursting into laughter. He replicated his most recent outing on Tuesday night, striking out seven over seven frames with three hits and one walk, letting his heater and knuckle curve do the talking against a Red Sox lineup that had scored 38 runs in its last five games.
There’s a reason all you’ve read about game one of this Boston series is Nola’s appearance. He gave up a two-run home to Jackie Bradley, Jr., but otherwise kept Boston in the dugout.
The offense showed a burst of life in the first inning when the struggling Rhys Hoskins led off the game with a walk, leading to one-out doubles for both Bryce Harper and Jean Segura that made it 2-0. Scott Kingery singled in Segura to make it 3-0, but that’s where the onslaught stopped—though with eight innings still in front of them, there was the promise of more to come.
There was no more. And the 3-0 game became a 3-2 game when Nola allowed the home run to Bradley. This has not been a team that’s made a living maintaining one-run leads this summer, but thanks to Nola going deep into the game, Jose Alvarez and Mike Morin putting together a clean eighth inning, and Hector Neris—ugh. Neris.
Neris allowed a lead-off double in the ninth inning of a one-run game and somehow we’re not talking about a loss. With no outs and a man on second, Kingery fielded a grounder to get the lead runner at third, and the second miracle of the inning came when the Phillies got the line drive double play they needed to give Neris the save.
Franzke's call on the game-ending double play pic.twitter.com/0WgfKMa9WS— Nick Piccone (@nickpiccone) August 21, 2019
A win authored by exceptional pitching and clutch defense; maybe not the Phillies’ forte, but they still got the win, and in the weeks to come, it’s not going to matter how they get them, just that they get them at all.