Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper power Phillies to series win
By Colin Newby
The Philadelphia Phillies secured their third straight home series win on Sunday to start the season, thanks to efforts from ace Aaron Nola and slugger Bryce Harper in a 2-0 victory opposite the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.
The Joe Girardi-led squad continued its superb home play at Citizens Bank Park, improving to 7-2. While lack of production from the centerfield spot and starting pitching depth are concerns moving forward, the expected strengths of this Phillies team have been on full display early this season.
Phillies ace Aaron Nola goes the distance for his 59th career win.
Nola pitched his first career nine-inning complete-game shutout, finishing with 10 strikeouts while allowing only three baserunners in the best start of his big-league career.
On the anniversary of his 500th career home run, Hall of Famer and now-broadcaster Mike Schmidt spoke on the broadcast before the game about the need for Nola to prove his reliability as the Phillies staff ace — especially in a series-decider.
Schmidt even likened Nola’s position in the Phillies rotation to his longtime teammate, Steve Carlton. While the comparison is still a bit lofty, Nola shined brightly following the proclamation.
Bryce Harper comes up huge in his return following a back injury.
After the Phillies offense struggled in three losses to the New York Mets at Citi Field, Bryce Harper was integral in the Phillies bounce-back effort on Friday. He ripped a two-run double and scored on J.T. Realmuto’s two-run homer, as part of a six-run second inning.
Harper returned from a minor back injury that kept him out Saturday and gave the Phillies an early lead with a second-deck moonshot in the first inning of Sunday’s game. He also doubled with Rhys Hoskins on first in the fifth inning. Hoskins would later score on a sacrifice fly by Alec Bohm.
Second baseman Jean Segura also had six hits in the series. He is batting .352 this season, and he extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday.
In the second game of the series, the Phillies could not overcome the early game struggles of Matt Moore and JoJo Romero. The two combined to allow nine runs in just three total innings pitched in what would be the only Phillies loss of the three-game set.
The offense had plenty of opportunities throughout the afternoon, but 11 men were left on base. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were powered by four home runs, two by veteran catcher Yadier Molina in their 9-4 win.
The Phils will face their former manager Gabe Kapler and the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park this week. Chase Anderson, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin are slated to start the three respective games.