GEAUX PHILS! GEAUX NOLA! GEAUX! GEAUX! GEAUX! Aaron Nola dazzled the Nationals but it was a late home run from Rhys Hoskins that proved to be the difference maker. The Nats made a ninth-inning push, but the Phils hung on to win 4-3.
Aaron Nola was dealing Thursday night. His fastball was hitting all four corners of the strike zone and his curveball was fooling Washington batters left and right. Nola pitched 7.2 innings, striking out eight batters, while only allowing one run and seven baserunners (five hits and two walks). Adam Morgan would finish off the eighth inning and the Phillies brought in Tommy Hunter to close the door in the ninth. Hunter immediately struggled allowing a single and an RBI double from the first two batters he saw before finally getting an out. That was all Gabe Kapler needed to pull Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez was called on to close the door. Dominguez was firing on all cylinders and while a wild pitch would bring in the baserunner Hunter left on third, Dominguez dominated both batters he saw, striking out both.
Offensively, the Phils responded to an early 1-0 Washington lead by manufacturing a run in both the second and third innings, respectively. Jorge Alfaro smacked a single into center and forced an error from Nationals CF Michael Taylor that allowed Maikel Franco to score in the second inning. In the third, Odubel Herrera took each base in a unique manner. Herrera was hit by a pitch to take first, he advanced to second on a deep fly out to center by Carlos Santana, he took third on a Nick Williams single, and Herrera scored thanks to Scott Kingery sac fly. The 2-1 lead was enough for Nola’s dominance to carry the lead to the seventh inning. Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a single and in stood Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins smacked an upstairs fastball to left field. The moon-shot-ball kept carrying and carrying and returned to earth in the left field seats!
Obviously, I was incredibly excited in-the-moment but the way the ball came off the bat, it looked like Rhys had been just under the ball and the at-bat would have resulted in a warning-track fly out. Obviously, we now know of Hunter’s struggles, so this homer proved to be the proper insurance the Phils would need. The Phils had baserunners in other innings, but couldn’t capitalize and string enough together.
I can’t speak too negatively of the team here. The only real negative of last night’s game was Hunter but we’ve been seeing him struggle for a while so it’s much of the same from him, unfortunately. Scoring four runs is definitely enough for a starter like Nola, who becomes the seventh Phillies pitcher since 2000 to win 10 games before July 1 (shoutout Eric Milton who did it 2004). Matt and I talked about it on this week’s podcast, but the Phillies will need to add something to this bullpen. Pat Neshek’s rehab is coming along, he’ll be in Double-A over the weekend, but the Phillies will likely need someone else to compliment Dominguez. We saw what happened Sunday after the Phils overused Seranthony, they’ll need another guy to turn to in a pinch if they’re truly committed to this closer by committee philosophy.
The second of this four-game set will be Friday night at 7:05. Nick Pivetta (4-6) will faceoff with Erick Fedde (0-3). Fedde’s last start was against the Phils last Saturday when he went 6.0 innings while allowing three runs and eight hits.
- With the Braves inactive, the Phils are now two games back in the NL East and have 1.5 games on the Nationals. With the Cubs beating the Dodgers last night and the Cardinals inactive, the Phils move back into the second wild-card position. It’s only the end of June, but the Phillies in a playoff chase near the halfway mark of the season is something we’ve been waiting to see for a long time.
- Rhys Hoskins ate a cheeseburger yesterday, showing that his jaw is nearly healed. When asked if he’ll keep the double-flapped helmet for either comfort or superstition, Hoskins replied “Yes” in a completely dead-panned tone. Don’t mess with success Rhys, keep the Magento helmet.