In his sixth career postseason start, Aaron Nola pitched a gem in front of the home faithful, ensuring he’d get at least one more chance to do so before he ventures into an uncertain future this offseason as the Phillies defeated the Miami Marlins by a score of 7-1 to sweep the Wild Card Series and advance to the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Including his seven shutout innings tonight, Nola lowered his home ERA to 3.04 on the season. As seemingly disappointing as his walk year has been, you can’t argue that he’s saved his best for the fans.
Phillies’ manager, Rob Thomson, rolled out the same exact starting lineup as last night against Marlins’ lefty, Braxton Garrett, with right-handed hitting Cristian Pache manning left field rather than Brandon Marsh.
Nola and Garrett were dealing early. Both starters induced one-two-three frames in the first inning with two swinging strikeouts apiece.
JT Realmuto was the first to get the best of Garrett with a one-out double in the bottom of the second inning but couldn’t get home to score.
The Marlins got to Nola in the top of the third with a deep liner to the left-center gap off the bat of shortstop, Jon Berti. Pache tracked the ball poorly and had to reroute, just getting a piece of his outstretched glove on it before it dropped to the grass.
With one-out and Berti on second base, Nola loaded the count against Marlins’ catcher, Jacob Stallings, with some wildness that looked like it might lead to a larger unraveling by the ambivalent ace. Then, Nola caught Berti jumping early for an attempted steal of third and got Stallings to ground out to third on the next pitch to reverse out of the vortex.
Phillies take advantage of some awful baserunning by Jon Berti pic.twitter.com/5WapCTwFnX— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 5, 2023
After his fielding misread in the top of the inning, Pache led off the bottom of the third with a six-pitch walk. Two batters later, Kyle Schwarber smoked a 1-1 sinker right at Marlins’ first baseman, Josh Bell, that landed fair just under Bell’s glove before tailing down the right field foul line for an RBI double.
Kyle Schwarber gets the Phillies on the board! pic.twitter.com/wXm9jJuH1T— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 5, 2023
In the next at bat, Trea Turner returned an 0-2 fastball back to sender, which knocked off Garrett’s glove before sauntering past second base for an RBI single.
2-0 courtesy of Trea Turner pic.twitter.com/QMajrS6pEV— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 5, 2023
The third inning damage persuaded Marlins’ manager, Skip Schumaker, to end Garrett’s evening prematurely after only 56 pitches in favor of right-handed reliever and ex-Phillie, David Robertson.
Robertson got ahead 0-2 on Realmuto to lead off the fourth inning. JT fouled off two pitches and worked the count to 2-2 before launching a seventh-pitch cutter to the left field seats to extend the lead to 3-0.
Nola got into a jam in the top of the fifth inning after conceding a one-out single to Marlins’ third baseman, Jake Burger, followed by a walk to left fielder, Bryan De La Cruz. Nola stayed resolute in the face of the threat, getting ahead 0-2 on right fielder, Jesus Sanchez, with some generosity on the part of home plate umpire, Doug Eddings. Sanchez knocked a curveball up the middle that was scooped up by Turner for a 6-3 inning-ending double play.
After hitting Berti with an errant slider to lead off the top of the sixth, Nola coaxed another ground ball from Stallings that found Turner for another double play.
Alec Bohm led off the top of the seventh inning with a double off of Robertson, who gave way to left hander, Andrew Nardi, who walked Bryce Harper on five pitches. Nick Castellanos rolled over on a fastball that ate up Burger at third for a bases-loading error. Bryson Stott came to the plate after striking out in his first two at bats. On the first pitch, he simply annihilated a fastball to right center field for the Phillies second ever playoff grand slam.
BRYSON STOTT SLAM AND PHILLY IS BUMPING pic.twitter.com/8VOCzxyRHz— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 5, 2023
It was the first grand slam of Stott’s career and only his fourth home run against a left handed pitcher all year. So much for the matchup nightmares.
The Phillies get two days of rest before Game 1 of the NLDS in Atlanta on Saturday, start time TBD. The Phillies went 5-8 against the Braves in the regular season but had a 4-3 record at Truist Park.
Starting pitchers haven’t been announced, but Braves’ ace, Spencer Strider, will have had six days of rest. Zack Wheeler won’t yet be on full rest, so the Phillies will likely look to Ranger Suarez or Taijuan Walker to eat a few innings on a short leash.
11 more, Topper.