Aaron Nola bounced back from two uncharacteristically short starts to pitch a shutout and get the Phillies a series win over the Cardinals.
This was one of the most dominant starts of Nola's career and his first nine-inning complete game as a big-leaguer. He had two CGs in 2020 but they were in seven-inning doubleheaders.
Nola allowed just one hit through the game’s first seven innings and two on the day. He struck out 10 and only four balls left the infield, weak flyballs. This was his first start since 2019 against a non-NL East or AL East foe and the Cardinals just did not look ready for him.
He came back out in the ninth at 102 pitches and retired Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in order.
"It kind of went by quicker than I thought," Nola said. "Fans were loud in the ninth inning, that was pretty cool. Great win, great series win. ... First Gatorade shower I’ve ever had, surprisingly."
Bryce Harper provided the Phillies’ ace an early run of support with a no-doubt, 425-foot solo blast to the middle of the second deck in right field. Harper, who missed Saturday’s game with back tightness, is locked in at the plate. He went 3 for 3 Sunday and reached base all four times. In his last two games, he has a homer, two doubles, a single, two walks and two 400-foot flyouts that left his bat at 108 and 109 mph. If either of those balls traveled two more feet, Harper’s start to the season would be gaining more notoriety.
"Stud, man, solid rip by Harp," Nola said. "We’ve seen it time and time again from him. That was a great way to start the game off."
Jean Segura also stayed hot with two hits, including a double. Segura is 12 for 23 over the last week with four extra-base hits, providing offense out of the bottom third of the batting order that the Phillies have badly needed with the centerfielders in the eight-spot doing nothing.
That eight-spot provided nothing again Sunday, by the way. Mickey Moniak went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and a walk as the Phillies have now gone 12 straight games without a hit from their centerfielder.
The Phillies won 2-0. Through four starts, Nola is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA. He has 28 strikeouts and three walks in 23⅔ innings.
Next up, the 8-7 Phillies have three at home against Gabe Kapler’s San Francisco Giants.
Chase Anderson (0-1, 4.00) opposes Giants No. 1 starter Kevin Gausman (0-0, 3.20) in Monday night’s series opener.
Zack Wheeler (1-2, 3.00) pitches Game 2 for the Phillies while the Giants’ starter is TBA. It was supposed to be right-hander Logan Webb but he and MLB saves leader Jake McGee went on the COVID injured list Sunday after experiencing vaccine reactions.
Wednesday pits Zach Eflin (1-0, 3.15) against Anthony DeSclafani, who has a 1.06 ERA in three starts.