Aaron Nola looks to build on milestone as Phillies host Braves
The Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for their third consecutive victory Tuesday night when they open a three-game home series against the Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 12-6 on Sunday as J.T. Realmuto ripped his 100th career home run, a three-run shot.
“Guys are starting to click a little bit more,” Realmuto said, suggesting Philadelphia is turning things around after some inconsistent play in April and May.
It was the second time in four June games that the Phillies scored at least 10 runs. Bryce Harper appears to be healthy following a series of injuries. Didi Gregorius is close to returning from an elbow ailment.
“I think the pieces are there,” Realmuto said. “I came back slow after the injury. I haven’t felt like myself the last couple weeks — just starting to kind of get in a groove. We’ve got guys starting to click at the right time.
“Offense is contagious. We just have to get rolling. We have to add on when we have the chance … that’s how it carries on to the next game. Hopefully good things are ahead for our offense.”
The Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound for his 13th start. In his last start, Nola (4-4, 3.84 ERA) became the ninth pitcher in franchise history to reach 1,000 strikeouts. Next up on the list is Curt Simmons, 52 strikeouts away. Steve Carleton leads the all-time Phillies list with 3,031.
Nola is 11-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 career starts against the Braves. In two starts this season against Atlanta, Nola is 0-1 and has allowed three home runs in 10 2/3 innings. He did not get a decision in the season-opening 3-2 win when he pitched a strong 6 2/3 innings, but was lasted only four innings in Atlanta on May 9, a 6-1 defeat.
Atlanta will also be seeking a third straight win, having defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 and 4-2 over the weekend.
“This was a really good series,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It should show those guys we’re as good as anybody out there when we play the way we’re capable of playing.
“Hopefully, it’s something you look back on in two or three weeks and maybe point to this,” Snitker said. “Other than the one inning (giving up eight runs Friday), we played a really good series against obviously the World Series champions. We did a lot of really good things. The bullpen was unbelievable.”
Like most teams, the Braves have been forced to play through a litany of injuries. They appear to have found their rhythm.
“This team is always fighting,” Ender Inciarte said. “So there’s good chemistry on the team and everybody is pulling for the same goal, which is winning a World Series. So, whoever is in the lineup, they’re just trying to do the best they can to help this team win ballgames.”
Drew Smyly (2-3, 5.98 ERA) will take the mound for his 10th start. He has two appearances (7.50 ERA) in his career against the Phils, with his only start coming on April 11, a 7-6 defeat in which he got no decision.
He’ll be facing a Braves lineup — led by Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson — that through Sunday’s games led the major leagues in home runs (86).
–Field Level Media