Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola proved his All-Star worth in the 3-1 nightcap victory to split Monday's doubleheader against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Tossing 105 pitches and 75 strikes, Nola surrendered just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 batters through seven shutout innings. Thirteen of the right-hander's 23 batters faced fell to 0-2 in the count. Nineteen saw first-pitch strikes.
Nola was just as valuable, if not more, on offense for the Phillies. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Nola cleared the bases with a three-run double to right — the game's only runs. The double was the Phillies' first of only two hits of the nightcap, and was also just the 10th hit and second extra-base hit of Nola's four-year career.
This is the #Phillies first win with two or fewer hits since Sept. 30, 1988. Chris James homered and Alex Madrid pitched seven innings in a 2-1 win over Expos in Montreal.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 10, 2018
Nola's strong outing not only secured his team its 50th win, but it also improved his 2018 win-loss record to 12-2 (.857). The right-hander's 12 wins leads the National League and matches his career single-season high set in 2017 (12-11, .522). The Phillies did not win 50 games last season until August 31.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native's 12 wins are also the most by a Phillies pitcher before the All-Star break since Curt Schilling won 13 in 1999. Nola will have the chance to tie Schilling's feat — with one more start this weekend against the Miami Marlins — prior to the 89th Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park on Tuesday, July 17.
Nola is now 2-0 this July with a 0.64 ERA and 0.786 WHIP spanning two starts and 14 innings. The right-hander went undefeated in five June starts (3-0), and lost just one contest each in March/April (3-1) and May (4-1).
The Phillies fell in the doubleheader opener, 4-3, as pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores hit a walkoff home run against Victor Arano in the 10th inning. Starter Zach Eflin allowed three runs on five hits, while striking out four batters on 84 pitches and 58 strikes. Nick Williams (RBI single), Rhys Hoskins (RBI single) and Maikel Franco (home run) all produced runs on offense.
Most wins in Phillies history in first 79 career starts:— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) July 10, 2018
36 … Aaron Nola
36 … Grover Cleveland Alexander
35 … Cole Hamels
34 … Art Mahaffey
30 … Brett Myers
29 … Tom Seaton [@CSeidmanNBCS's favorite pitcher]
Flores produced the only Mets hits in the nightcap, a two-out single to left in the first inning, and a one-out RBI double in the ninth. While Arano suffered the loss in the doubleheader opener, he notched his third save in the second game, recording the final out via strikeout on five pitches.
The Phillies will play at least one more doubleheader against the Mets this season, August 16 at Citizens Bank Park. Prior to Monday, the last doubleheader between the division rivals came on Sept. 24, 2011. The Mets took both games, 2-1 and 6-3.