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The ace has returned: Phillies 2, Braves 1

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Back to normal, Nola

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most criticized athletes in the city was on display Sunday. Aaron Nola has been the object of the fanbase’s scorn this for a plethora of reasons - inconsistency, lack of vaccination, etc. It has all been deserved too as Nola has pitched poorly enough to get all of the anger directed at him. Today, though, he was magnificent, the Aaron Nola of old, the co-ace of the pitching staff. When the team needed him the most, he stepped up and delivered in a big way.

It was pretty obvious early that Nola was going to be on his game when he managed to set the Braves’ order down 1-2-3. While that doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to be great, when the team is coming off a game like they played last night, it does mean something. The issue is that the Braves also got a pitching performance that was sorely needed. Touki Toussaint went seven incredible innings of his own, making the Phillies look foolish all day long with a darting fastball, fall off the table curveball and excellent command of his own.

Offense was tough to come by today, but the Phillies were luckily able to get one across when Jean Segura opened the scoring for the day in the fourth with a rocket off Toussaint that made it 1-0.

It turned out that it was needed since as much as Nola was dealing, so was Toussaint. He’d calm down after that and pitch a fabulous game for the Braves, getting a tough luck loss.

Nola, though, was the story. He had command of everything today, putting on a bravura performance that was exceptionally needed. Of course, every great pitching performance needs a little defensive help and boy did Nola get it. Austin Riley started off the seventh inning with a double and the Braves were threatening right off the bat. No one out and a runner on second this season has usually seen Nola fold, but this play by Segura must’ve gotten something started.

Amazing.

Nola got out of the inning unscathed, needing a little bit of insurance to really feel comfortable. Hello, Ronald Torreyes.

The rest was up to Nola. While he gave up a solo shot to Austin Riley in the ninth to make it a little uncomfortable for everyone, Ranger Suarez came in to shut out down, locking up the victory for the Phillies. For all the (deserved) criticism Nola has gotten this year, today he gave a reminder why he is an ace. An ace having a bad year, but an ace nonetheless.

The Phillies get Washington coming in for a four game series, needing once again to take three of four to remain in contention.