“He’s so tough,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told MLB.com. “Man, is he resilient.”
By Julie Glass
Aaron Nola threw 104 pitches, striking out seven in seven innings while allowing two runs off four hits and one walk and improved to 12-3 on the season.
And the Phils kept pace in the wild card race, two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second postseason spot.
“Making quality pitches,” Nola said. “Trying not to be too predictable and trying to get ahead. Getting ahead is the number one thing and get the leadoff hitter out. It really takes a lot of stress off the pitcher.”
Nola quieted the offense of a Red Sox team that had been on a five-game winning streak. He allowed a two-run shot to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the third, but the Phillies’ ace gave up just two hits after that over four scoreless innings.
“He’s good, man. He’s good,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “His curveball is pretty big. He keeps you off-balance. He doesn’t leave a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. Kind of a weird delivery and just kept us off-balance.”
Nola mixed a fastball, knuckle curveball and changeup to catch the Red Sox for 13 swinging strikes and 16 called strikes. His four-seam fastball reached 94.9 mph, according to Statcast.
“I think he’s able to mix three-plus pitches — there aren’t many starting in baseball that are able to do that — and then command all three of them,” Kapler said. “I think it’s the preparation between the starts that is unparalleled. I think it’s as competitive a package as there is out there.”
Nola is 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 12 starts dating to June 21. During that stretch, his opponents are hitting just .181. Interleague Play has suited Nola well, too. He is 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 10 Interleague starts since June 27, 2017.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
“He’s as physically prepared as any pitcher I’ve been around,” Kapler said. “He’s as mentally prepared as any pitcher I’ve been around. I think he’s built for this. Quite frankly, we’re in a playoff race and he’s far and away our best and most dependable pitcher.”