Phillies MLB Opening Day 2019: Four things we learned from a big win

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 28: Starting pitcher Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitching the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park on March 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

Aaron Nola ramps up as the game goes on

In 2018, if you didn’t get to Aaron Nola early, you likely weren’t going to get to him at all. In 33 first innings last year, Nola had a 4.36 ERA. In every other inning he pitched combined, he had a 2.02 ERA.

While the Braves could not get to Nola in the first inning, they were able to in the second thanks to some small ball. Ronald Acuna walked and stole second base to open up the inning. Nick Markakis poked a single through the right side of the single to score Acuna, providing Atlanta’s only run against Nola.

From then on, Nola only allowed one more hit and struck out seven more batters. His pitches looked better and better as the game went on, making batter after batter just look foolish.

While Nola was pretty much unhittable (just two allowed all game) his control wavered at times. He walked five batters total, a career high for the 25-year-old. Three of those walks came in the second inning, but Nola was able to escape with only one run allowed.

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Two more walks came in the sixth, Nola’s final inning, but he got some help from catcher J.T. Realmuto, throwing out Freddie Freeman stealing. Realmuto helped out Nola all game long with his pitch framing, getting several close strike calls from the home plate umpire.

Nola’s final line was two hits, one earned run allowed, five walks, and eight strikeouts in six innings. It certainly wasn’t Nola’s best outing, but he still delivered a strong performance on Opening Day.

Even better, Gabe Kapler actually pulled Nola at the right time this season.