Over the last two seasons, the Boston Red Sox have faced Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber and Blake Snell, just to name a handful of the top pitchers in the American League. That quartet of arms has combined for four Cy Young Awards and 10 other top 5 finishes in their careers.
So the Sox have seen some pitching over the last two seasons.
That’s what makes this comment about Aaron Nola from Boston manager Alex Cora so remarkable:
“We’ve seen him the last two years,” Cora said. “With all due respect to all the pitchers that we have faced, he’s been the best one. I love the way he competes, love his stuff, he doesn’t panic. He’s pitched twice over there at home and (once) here, but with the offense that we have, he still dominates us.”
Cora made this comment during his postgame session with reporters after Saturday night’s game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Red Sox rallied against Hector Neris in the top of the ninth and won, 2-1. They did little against Nola earlier in the game. The right-hander scattered four hits and a run over seven innings and struck out nine.
On August 20 in Boston, Nola beat the Red Sox with seven innings of four-hit, two-run ball.
Last season, he pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1, 13-inning loss at Fenway Park.
So in three career starts against Boston, Nola has allowed just 12 hits and four runs over 22 innings. He has racked up 22 strikeouts and walked just five.
Nola, 26, signed a four-year, $45 million contract with the Phillies in February. Had he not signed and gone to arbitration this winter, his agent surely would have used Cora's appraisal in negotiations.
“They really have a good one,” Cora said. “He’s a special one. It would have been cool to face him in October, but I guess we’ll face him next year.”
If the Red Sox see Nola next season, it will have to be in the World Series. The two teams, frequent interleague opponents, are not scheduled to play each other during the regular season next year. Only a rematch of the 1915 World Series would pit them against each other in October. That actually sounds fun.
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