Aaron Nola sharp, but Phillies whiff yet again with their No. 1 starter on the hill

Aaron Nola sharp, but Phillies whiff yet again with their No. 1 starter on the hill


Aaron Nola delivered seven innings of one-run ball, but the Phillies hitters did not deliver enough offense in a damaging 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 3 ½ games back in the NL wild-card chase with just 15 games to play.

Incredibly, the Phillies are winless in Nola’s last five starts. That can’t happen in a playoff chase.

Nola and Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez hooked up in a tight pitchers’ duel. The teams traded runs in the seventh inning and the Red Sox went ahead against Hector Neris in the ninth. Neris allowed two singles, a one-out walk and a tie-breaking sacrifice fly to Andrew Benintendi.

The Phillies had just five hits in the game and went 0 for 5 with a runner in scoring position. They had a runner on second with no outs in the eighth but the top half of the batting order could not get him home.

Nola’s night

The right-hander rebounded from two straight shaky outings and delivered a gem. He rolled through the first six innings and allowed just three base runners, and none got past second base.

In the seventh, Nola wore down a little. He allowed a walk and a base hit to open the frame before Christian Vazquez smacked a curve ball to the gap to break a scoreless tie.

Nola then walked Jackie Bradley Jr., to load the bases.

With his pitch count rising toward 100, Nola was able to get out of the jam. He got a force at the plate for the second out then struck out the opposing pitcher Rodriguez for the third out.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora let Rodriguez hit with the bases loaded because he was at just 80 pitches and still had gas in the tank. Suffice it to say, Nola was happy with Cora’s decision. The Red Sox had Benintendi, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts on the bench as potential pinch-hit options. Cora put Benintendi to good use in the ninth.

Rodriguez coughs up lead

Rodriguez almost made his skipper look good for sticking with him. After allowing a leadoff single to Bryce Harper to open the bottom of the seventh, the lefty struck out Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery, who together swung at five pitches outside the strike zone. Kingery went down swinging at three changeups out of the zone.

Rodriguez was one strike away from getting out of the inning when he hit Adam Haseley with a pitch to load the bases. That brought up Maikel Franco. He worked a full count then took ball four to force home the tying run.

Rodriguez then exited and lefty Josh Taylor struck out pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin as the score remained tied at 1-1.

Trouble with the change

Rodriguez threw 105 pitches and got 19 swings-and-misses, 16 of them on his changeup. Phillies hitters did a lot of chasing outside of the strike zone and stuck out 12 times in 6 2/3 innings against Rodriguez.

Over the last three seasons, the Red Sox are 13-0 when Rodriguez starts an interleague game.

And another one

Catcher J.T. Realmuto showed off his quick release once again in gunning down his 37th attempted base stealer of the season. That’s the most in the majors. No Phillies catcher has thrown out more in a season since Darren Daulton gunned down 40 in 1993.

Franco starts

Back in early August, Franco was sent to the minors. One of the reasons given for the demotion was his lack of success hitting left-handed pitching. Entering this game, Franco was 4 for 6 with a double and a homer against left-handed pitching since his return from the minors. That earned him the start against Rodriguez.

Up next

The Phillies will send lefty Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.31) to the mound Sunday afternoon. He will face right-hander Rick Porcello (12-12, 5.83).

The Phillies flip-flopped Vargas and Vince Velasquez in the rotation. Velasquez will pitch Tuesday night in Atlanta. Manager Gabe Kapler said he made the move because Atlanta was so familiar with Vargas. Vargas lasted just three innings Tuesday night against Atlanta. The Phillies ended up winning that game, 6-5.

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J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will participate in Tuesday’s workout before taking a flight to Phoenix for Wednesday’s salary arbitration hearing.

Realmuto is dreading the long flight, not the hearing.

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way, I’m happy.”

Realmuto is actually seeking $12.4 million. The Phillies have filed at $10 million. The arbitration panel will select one figure or the other. There is no middle ground (more details here).

Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last year, is in his third and final year of arbitration and is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. To date, the highest-paid catcher in that class was Matt Wieters, who avoided a hearing with Baltimore and made $8.275 million 2015. Catcher Mike Napoli actually made more — $9.4 million — in a negotiated settlement with the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he was in his fourth year of arbitration because of his Super-Two status with the Anaheim Angels in 2009.

So, no matter how the arbitration panel rules, Realmuto’s 2020 salary will be a record for an arbitration-eligible catcher.

Once Realmuto’s 2020 salary is established, the Phillies will turn their attention to negotiating a long-term contract extension with him. Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. 

The Phillies would like to get a deal done by opening day to avoid any potential distractions. Would Realmuto negotiate during the season?

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Realmuto said. “I’ll talk with my agent and we’ll communicate with Matt (Klentak, the general manager) and let him know.”

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Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joe Girardi officially opened his first Phillies spring training camp by telling the players to give him their hearts.

“He knows if he can get our heart, he’ll get our best on the field,” J.T. Realmuto said.

Both Girardi and managing partner John Middleton stressed that the goal was to play deep into October. The Phillies have not been to the postseason since 2011.

Middleton reminded the players of the passion that Philadelphia fans have and urged them to give back to the fans by playing the game hard and respecting it.

Girardi roamed the fields of Carpenter Complex during the workout. He lightened the mood at the end of a base-running drill by asking a group of players, including Jean Segura, to show off their home run trots.

“Just to have some fun,” Girardi said after the workout.

The home-run trot "drill" came with some instructions.

“Make sure you run hard before you know it's out,” he told the players. “The big thing is if you run hard to first, there is a great chance it'll be out by then. Then you don't get caught on first base or caught on second base when you should be a base ahead. Just run hard.”

Phillies pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice during Tuesday’s workout.

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