NEW YORK -- This is why Aaron Nola is an All-Star.He single-handedly helped the Phillies earn a doubleheader split Monday night against the Mets at Citi Field with a masterful pitching performance and the team's first hit and only RBIs in a 3-1 victory in Game 2. Nola allowed one
NEW YORK -- This is why Aaron Nola is an All-Star.
He single-handedly helped the Phillies earn a doubleheader split Monday night against the Mets at Citi Field with a masterful pitching performance and the team's first hit and only RBIs in a 3-1 victory in Game 2. Nola allowed one hit and struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings to improve to 12-2, the first pitcher in the National League with 12 wins, with a 2.27 ERA. He doubled with two outs in the fifth inning to score three runs.
"Noles did everything imaginable," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Everything that he could have possibly done he did."
The Phillies lost Game 1 on Wilmer Flores' walk-off homer in the 10th inning. It would have been a huge disappointment for the Mets to win Game 2. First, the Mets are one of the worst teams in baseball. Second, the Phillies specifically set up their rotation to have their two hottest pitchers -- Zach Eflin in Game 1 and Nola in Game 2 -- face them.
"I definitely wanted to win a little more today because of the loss, but I just tried to do my job like I do every time," Nola said.
Of course, everybody knew Nola could pitch like that. But nobody expected him to hit.
Mets right-hander Corey Oswalt retired the first 12 batters he faced when he walked Carlos Santana and Aaron Altherr to start the fifth inning. But after Scott Kingery flied out and Jorge Alfaro grounded out, the Mets intentionally walked Maikel Franco to load the bases and face Nola.
It was a no-brainer. Nola is an excellent pitcher, but he is not a good hitter, even by pitcher standards. Forty-three pitchers in baseball have 120 or more plate appearances since the beginning of the 2015 season. Nola's .067 batting average entering the game ranked 41st.
Only Dan Straily (.063) and Ivan Nova (.037) have been worse.
But Nola smacked a first-pitch fastball into the right-field corner to clear the bases and hand the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Nola said afterward he was "shocked."
"I didn't think he was going to throw me a first-pitch heater and he did," he said.
"I'm maybe being a little bit Pollyannish or at least optimistic that he could do it," Kapler said. "But we needed it. We weren't getting hits anywhere else. So we needed that moment from Noles."
Nola entered the seventh inning having thrown just 79 pitches. Kapler said he thought Nola might have finished the game, except Brandon Nimmo worked a 12-pitch at-bat before striking out to start the inning.
Still, Nola showed why he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
"When I was on the DL I got to stand in on a couple of his bullpens," Rhys Hoskins said. "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."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Phillies lost the shutout in the ninth inning when Tommy Hunter hit Nimmo with a pitch with two outs and allowed a double to Flores. Victor Arano, who allowed the walk-off homer to Flores in Game 1, struck out Devin Mesoraco swinging to end the game. It was Arano's third save of the season.
"Arano said immediately after [Game 1], 'I'm good for the second game,'" Kapler said. "To see Arano finish that game with all sorts of chest-out kind of bravado, I think that was a big lift to the clubhouse and the dugout."
It was the first time the Phillies won a game with two or fewer hits since Sept. 30, 1988. Chris James homered, Alex Madrid pitched seven innings and Steve Bedrosian earned a two-inning save in a 2-1 victory over the Expos in Montreal.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mets manager Mickey Callaway summoned left-hander Jerry Blevins from the bullpen in the eighth, presumedly to face the Phillies' Odubel Herrera, who had been standing in the on-deck circle. But Callaway made the move before Herrera got announced. Kapler pulled the left-handed-hitting Herrera and sent switch-hitter Jesmuel Valentin to the plate instead. Valentin struck out looking.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, I could hear them. Especially the pitchers, we always mess with each other about hitting. They were probably shocked too. It's my first double since 2016." -- Nola, on if he heard his teammates celebrating his double in the dugout
Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Enyel De Los Santos is expected to make his Major League debut Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Mets at Citi Field. De Los Santos is the Phillies' No. 11 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He has pitched remarkably well for the IronPigs. He is 9-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 16 starts, earning a spot in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.