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Costly errors hand Phillies 2nd loss in Nola's spring debut

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Final: Yankees 8, Phillies 3 ❖ WP: Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 0.00 ERA) ❖ LP: Aaron Nola (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Two separate fielding misplays by third baseman Maikel Franco and first baseman Logan Moore — resulting in a combined four runs — proved to be costly as the Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) fell 8-3 to the New York Yankees (3-0) Sunday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola made his spring debut as he prepares for his fourth season in red pinstripes. Nola opposed Yankees southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who enters his second big league season after finishing in sixth place for the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2017.

The Phillies offense produced just four hits — including a two-run home run by Franco. The Yankees, meanwhile, produced three times as many hits as the Phillies, 12. Official game time was recorded at two hours and 58 minutes, with total attendance of 7,951.

Starting Pitchers:

  • LHP Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees
    Game Line: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
    2017 and career stats: 29 games, 9-7, 144 strikeouts, 1.23 WHIP, 3.88 ERA

The Phillies managed just one hit through two innings against Montgomery on 25 pitches: a two-out single to left fielder Shane Robinson in the first by left fielder Nick Williams. Williams was thrown out by Robinson at second on the play.

  • RHP Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
    Game Line: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO
    2017 stats: 27 games, 12-11, 184 strikeouts, 1.21 WHIP, 3.54 ERA
    Career: 60 games, 24-22, 373 strikeouts, 1.24 WHIP, 3.94 ERA

Nola ended his spring debut with 31 pitches (23 strikes) through two frames. After allowing three runs in the first, Nola recovered nicely the next inning by going 1-2-3 against Yankees batters, including his third strikeout by retiring third baseman Ronald Torreyes on a blocked swinging strike.

Costly Errors:

At the very onset of the contest, Nola allowed a lead off single and double to Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and shortstop Gleyber Torres, respectively. Two batters later, designated hitter Aaron Hicks hit a popup fly to Franco, however he lost the ball in the sun to load the bases. Switch-hitting Yankees second baseman Danny Espinosa made Franco pay for his misplay, as he doubled down the right field line to clear the bases.

The Phillies committed two errors officially, excluding Franco's first inning misplay which was recorded as as single. Pedro Florimon's fielding error in the fourth, allowing Yankees right fielder Billy McKinney to reach and extend the inning against Hutchison. Pinch hitter Jeff Hendrix reached on a fielding error by Moore in the sixth, scoring both Yankees runners in scoring position to give the club a then-6-3 lead.

On offense, poor baserunning may have cost the Phillies some runs in the bottom of the fifth. Joseph singled to start the inning and was pinch ran for by minor league camp invitee Zachary Coppola. Coppola was soon after picked off by former major league starter LHP Wade LeBlanc. After doubling later in the inning, Cozens was thrown out while trying to steal third base.  Cozens' double ended up being the Phillies' fourth and final hit on offense for the afternoon.

Game Notes:

  • Phillies non-roster invitee RHP Drew Hutchison entered in relief of Nola in the third, and threw a 1-2-3 inning while facing Ellsbury, Torres and first baseman Greg Bird. In the fourth against Hutchison, Torreyes brought in the Yankees' fourth run via a sacrifice fly RBI to right. Replay revealed that Phillies right fielder Dylan Cozens may have thrown out Hicks at home on the play, however there are no managerial challenges in spring training matchups.
  • Nola, Hutchison and RHP Drew Anderson each threw two innings in their spring debuts. Right-handers Hector Neris (zero earned runs allowed, one strikeout), Luis Garcia (two earned runs allowed) and Seranthony Dominguez (zero earned runs allowed, two strikeouts) also debuted in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Phillies bullpen combined to allow five runs (four earned) on eight hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
  • Yankees southpaw prospect Justus Sheffield, 21, made his spring debut in the third with 19 total pitches. He struck out first baseman Tommy Joseph and Cozens, followed by getting Florimon to ground out to second. Sheffield reached as high as 96 miles per hour on the radar gun. A top 50 prospect in Major League Baseball, Sheffield expected to open the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
  • The Phillies scored three runs in the fourth inning against Sheffield. Two batters after center fielder Roman Quinn (walk) and shortstop J.P. Crawford (hit by pitch) reached, designated hitter Odubel Herrera hit a sacrifice fly to deep right center for the Phillies' first run. On the very next pitch, Franco made up for his fielding blunder by launching a two-run home run to left.
  • Top Phillies infield prospect Scott Kingery made his first spring appearance at shortstop, replacing Crawford in the fifth.

What's Next:

  • Monday, Feb. 26, 2018: at New York Yankees, 6:35 p.m.
    • George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fla.
    • RHP Ben Lively (2017: 4-7, 4.26 ERA) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (2017: 10-12, 3.55 ERA)
    • TV: N/A; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP


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