Phillies

All-Star Aaron Nola does literally everything in Phillies' win over Mets

All-Star Aaron Nola does literally everything in Phillies' win over Mets

Updated: 11:30 p.m.

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NEW YORK — After a frustrating extra-inning loss in Game 1 of their doubleheader, the Phillies needed shutdown innings and timely hitting in Game 2 against the Mets.

All-Star Aaron Nola took it upon himself to provide both.

Nola was completely locked in on the mound, and his fifth-inning trip to the plate was the game's decisive at-bat. After Corey Oswalt intentionally walked Maikel Franco to load the bases, Nola doubled on the first pitch he saw to clear the bases.

As sharp as Nola looked from the first pitch he threw, you got the sense that was all the offense the Phillies would need. It was, with the Phils winning, 3-1.

Here's how much of a groove Nola was in. He faced 23 batters tonight and threw two strikes among the first three pitches to 19 of them ... and one of the only hitters he didn't get ahead of 0-2 or 1-2 made a first-pitch out.

"It's really easy [to play behind him]," Rhys Hoskins said. "When I was on the DL, I got to stand in on a couple of his bullpens. Obviously, I knew he was good before but just to watch the perfection that happened in his bullpens ... there's a lot more appreciation for what he does every time he steps on the mound. Every spot was hit, everything was sharp, there were no misses in the middle of the plate. That's why he's an All-Star. It's been fun to watch and I'm really glad he's on our team.

"He's been really, really good from Day 1 of his career. For him to finally get the recognition from across the league and maybe nationally that he deserves, it was cool to see. I'm happy for him as a teammate, I'm happy for him as a friend, nobody more deserving. The guy works his tail off every single day, he's got a routine like nobody I've ever seen."

From the first through seventh innings, Nola retired 18 consecutive hitters. After walking Michael Conforto with two outs in the seventh to break the streak, Nola struck out his 10th and final batter.

In all, Nola allowed one hit and one walk over seven shutout innings with 10 Ks. He improves to 12-2 with a 2.27 ERA, moving ahead of Max Scherzer (2.33).

It was Nola's double, though, that elicited the biggest reaction from the Phillies' dugout. Not just the biggest reaction of the game. The biggest reaction all season, according to Gabe Kapler.

"That was the moment in the dugout when I heard the loudest celebration of the year," the manager said. "His teammates were so happy for him. It was pretty special."

The Phillies and idle Braves are both 50-39. Barring any postponements this week, the Phils will enter the All-Star break with one more game played than the Braves, who are off again Thursday.

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James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

The Yankees are getting James Paxton from the Mariners, as first reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred. It's a move that has a few ramifications for the Phillies.

The Mariners are acquiring pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, OF Don Thompson-Williams and RHP Erik Swanson for Paxton, who is 30 years old and perpetually hurt but so good when he's on the mound. Paxton has a 3.42 career ERA with even better earned run estimators — he limits the homers, strikes out more than a batter per inning, all that good stuff.

The move potentially crosses Patrick Corbin off of the Yankees' list, ridding the marketplace of a top bidder for the top free-agent pitcher.

That's not a certainty, though. The Yankees could still look to sign Corbin to a lucrative deal, putting together a rotation of Corbin, Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.

Paxton was a name that teammate Jim Salisbury mentioned a few weeks ago in reference to the Phillies' search for a top-of-the-rotation lefty starter (see story). Robbie Ray was the other, and with the D-backs potentially exploring Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke trades, them moving Ray is a good bet this offseason.

As for Corbin, it just doesn't seem the Phillies will be the team that outbids all others. As the top pitcher on the market, he's still in line for nine figures. While free agency has been reined in the last few years, there have still been eight starting pitchers since 2015 to get contracts of at least $100 million: Yu Darvish, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann.

Perhaps if the market comes back to the Phillies with Corbin as it did with Jake Arrieta, they'd pounce. But it's unlikely with every team always in the mix for pitching.

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

With the Phillies expected to spend this offseason, there will be more national attention on them next season than in nearly a decade.

And that’s reflected in the schedule. On March 31, 2019, it’s the Phillies and Braves on the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season. The 7 p.m. game is their third of 162. 

It’s the Phillies’ first time leading off Sunday Night Baseball since 2009, when they also hosted the Braves. They lost 4-1 that night behind Brett Myers. Jumpin’ Jack Taschner was the first man out of the ‘pen. Time flies. 

The big question is who will be hitting in the heart of the Phillies’ order to provide run support for Aaron Nola that night. The Braves could also make a splash this offseason. They’re not ordinarily a big spender, but their young talent is the envy of much of the league. Atlanta could lose free agent Nick Markakis this offseason, which would thrill the Phils.

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