Behind eight strong innings of work against the Cincinnati Reds, Aaron Nola picked up his first win of the 2018 season. Allowing just three hits and one run with six strikeouts and three walks, Nola was economical with his pitches and showed why he is the ace of the Phillies staff.
Unlike his previous two starts, Nola was able to pitch deep into the game. Rookie manager Gabe Kapler pulled Nola early in the season opener in Atlanta, leading to a no-decision and a loss for the Phillies. Nola then labored a bit in his second start against the New York Mets. Again, he received no decision after five innings of work and two runs allowed on four hits. On Tuesday night in Citizens Bank Park, Nola was locked in and took advantage of a weak Reds club to truly get his season started on a high note.
After throwing 103 pitches over eight innings, Nola was given a hearty congratulations from the staff and teammates as the Phillies took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. Any concerns about the bullpen letting Nola’s first win slip through the cracks were eliminated when Scott Kingery hit his second career home run, and second in as many days against the Reds, for a grand slam. The slam pushed the lead to 6-1, and it was smooth sailing from there.
Nola had to be sharp, because Homer Bailey was doing well for himself into the sixth inning. It took until the sixth inning for the Phillies to record their first hit of the game (a Cesar Hernandez single). That may have been the turning point of the game, because Hernandez came around to score after stealing second and being brought home by an Odubel Herrera double. Nick Williams scored on a J.P. Crawford single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Phillies and Nola a 2-1 lead to protect.
Nick Pivetta takes the mound for the series finale as the Phillies go for a three-game sweep. A win would put the Phillies over the .500 mark for the first time early in the season.