In his first three starts of the season, Aaron Nola hadn’t pitched horribly. But he hadn’t pitched all that well either, and perhaps most damaging, he wasn’t able to pitch deep into the game. On Sunday, longevity wasn’t a problem. He pitched the first nine-inning complete game of his career, leading the Phillies to a 2-0 win over the Cardinals.
Nola needed to be on top of his game, because the Phillies didn’t provide him with much run support. When Bryce Harper hit a home run in the first inning, it looked like the bats might be in for a big day.
Unfortunately, Harper was just about the only one hitting well. One day after he rested his sore back, Harper had three hits, but that was half of the team’s total for the game. The only other run they managed was courtesy of a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Alec Bohm in the fifth.
If the lack of run support bothered Nola, he didn’t show it. He allowed just two hits and didn’t walk anyone. His day might have been even better if he didn’t commit an error when fielding a throw at first base.
Nola has never thrown a nine-inning complete game before, and with a manageable pitch count, there was some suspense whether he would be sent back out for the ninth. But as the inning began, he came running out the dugout, and despite facing some dangerous hitters, retired the side just as easily as he had all game.
Aaron Nola has thrown the first complete game shutout of his career.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 18, 2021
The only remotely negative thing about Nola’s complete game was that it didn’t come a day later. It would have been fitting if this effort came against his former manager who once famously removed him from a game prematurely. But I have a feeling that neither Nola nor his teammates are complaining much.