Aaron Nola pitches like a true ace, leads Phillies to clinch a postseason berth.
For the first time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Phillies have clinched a Wild Card berth, and will make their first postseason appearance in more than a decade.
The Phillies took care of business and beat the Houston Astros, 3-0, in Monday’s three-game series opener. Kyle Schwarber got things started early with a leadoff homerun and hit another one in the eighth inning — going back-to-back with rookie shortstop Bryson Stott.
While the Phillies received help from Schwarber and Stott on offense, they also watched ace Aaron Nola pitch a gem in his most important start as a major-leaguer. The right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning, before Yordan Álvarez broke it up with a two-out single. Nola finished the night going 6 2/3 innings — yielding just two hits, while striking out nine.
Relievers José Alvarado and Zach Eflin — who was acquired in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers — kept the Astros off the scoreboard. All parts of the team clicked — and that is what they will need to continue to do to win a postseason series for the first time since 2010.
Nola had a notorious reputation for fading in the later months of seasons. In 2022, however, he may have reversed that notion. The right-hander finished September with a 2.93 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. He followed that up with an outstanding performance on Monday.
Nola will look to continue his late-season dominance as he lines up to pitch in game two of the Wild Card Series, which is currently lining up against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Playoff baseball is never easy, but pitching is usually the difference-maker. The Phillies will hope that they can continue to rely on their starting rotation as they begin their playoff journey.