Aaron Nola was ahead in the count, 1-2, to Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia leading off the third inning and tried to finish him off with a changeup that was supposed to be down but stayed up in the zone.
Arcia put a decent swing on it, but got out just a little ahead of the ball, which reached its apex somewhere over left field and then began curving and divebombing toward the foul pole.
Third base umpire Alfonso Marquez made the call decisively. Foul. The Braves weren’t so sure the ball hadn’t nicked the pole but after sneaking a peek at the replay ultimately decided not to challenge. Play resumed and Arcia ended up grounding out.
Which wouldn’t even be a footnote to the Phillies 5-1 10-inning loss to the Braves Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, except for this: Coming into his start, Nola has allowed at least one home run in 11 straight appearances. That was one short of the club record held by lefthander Randy Wolf since 2000.
Nola not only avoided – by inches – tying the record, he finished with six shutout innings.
“I’ve just recently been made aware of this ‘record’ and I honestly have zero recollection of it happening,” Wolf texted afterward. “I think it’s because during this stretch I was pitching deep into all those games and won more than I lost.”
His memory is correct. In those dirty dozen starts during his first full year in the big leagues he pitched at least six innings 11 times and seven or more eight times. In that stretch he was 5-4 for a team that went on to finish last with 97 losses.
“I wasn’t really worried about it then as long as I pitched deep and kept us in the game, and I remember wishing I had a sinker,” he added. “The goal for pitchers was just so different then than it is now.”
Home runs haven’t really been a bugaboo for Nola in his career, but this season he gave up 15 in his first 15 starts.
That’s not great, but it’s also worth mentioning that of the nine pitchers in history who have given up the most home runs, an incredible six of them are in the Hall of Fame: Robin Roberts (second), Ferguson Jenkins (third), Phil Niekro (fourth), Don Sutton (fifth), Warren Spahn (eighth) and Bert Blyleven (ninth.) Blyleven led the league twice, Niekro four times and Jenkins a crazy seven times.
With Wednesday night’s postponement, manager Rob Thompson could have skipped fifth starter Cristopher Sanchez this weekend against the division rival Mets at Citizens Bank Park but chose instead to push everybody back.
“Just to make sure everybody got an extra day. Including Ranger (Suarez),” the manager said. “He’s had a big work load lately. All these guys have been going deep lately. Deeper than they have been, anyway.”
Suarez, in fact, will get two additional days of rest because of Monday’s scheduled open date before the Phillies open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Match-ups for the Mets, who have lost 13 of their last 17:
RHP Kodai Senga (6-4, 3.53) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-3, 4.31) Friday night at 7:05, RHP Max Scherzer (6-2, 4.04) vs. LHP Sanchez (0-0, 3.24) Saturday at 4:05 And RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-3, 6.34) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (6-4, 3.48) Sunday at 1:35.
Source: Yahoo Sports