Aaron Nola, Phillies face Mets in rubber game of series

MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies will look for their second series victory to open the season when they host the New York Mets on Wednesday.

Despite an 8-4 setback on Tuesday, the Phillies can take two of three over the Mets with a win in the finale. The Phillies began the season with a three-game sweep against the Atlanta Braves.

Philadelphia will hand the ball to ace right-hander Aaron Nola for his second start. On Opening Day, Nola tossed 6 2/3 solid innings and allowed only a two-run pinch-hit home run to Pablo Sandoval.

“Unbelievable win,” Nola said after giving up six hits, striking out six and walking none. “Last pitch was a pretty bad pitch. Definitely tough pitch to swallow, but overall we got the win, and that’s all that matters.”

Nola holds an 8-2 record with a 3.30 ERA in 16 career starts against the Mets.

The Phillies won their first four games and were attempting to begin a season 5-0 for the first time since 1915. But reliever Vince Velasquez struggled mightily and walked four in 1 1/3 innings.

Last season, the Phillies’ bullpen was among the worst in Major League Baseball. With the exception of Velasquez’s outing, the bullpen has been much improved in 2021.

“We’re coming out attack mode,” reliever Brandon Kintzler said. “I think that fires position players up because they know how hard it is to hit relievers in attack mode. We all know any big loss in the ninth or any big deficit in the fourth or fifth is deflating for everybody. So the fact we can come in and attack and put up some zeros, and all of a sudden we get some momentum, a little bit at a time each inning, it puts pressure on the other team.”

The Mets will also be searching for a series win on Wednesday as they send left-hander David Peterson to the mound for his first start of the season.

Peterson was impressive as a rookie with a 6-2 record and 3.44 ERA in 10 games, nine of which were starts.

In Peterson’s lone start against the Phillies last season, he lasted only two innings and allowed three hits and five runs.

Peterson struggled at times during spring training, but will be given an opportunity to secure a spot in the starting rotation.

“My goal all along has been to come in and show the coaching staff and the organization and the guys in that locker room that I am ready to contribute again at the big-league level, and the goal for me is to be in the rotation,” Peterson said. “My work in spring training has been about being as ready as possible to go every fifth day and let the rest take care of itself.”

Mets manager Luis Rojas said that he believes Peterson possesses the ability to become a standout starter.

“I would say he’s in a really good position right now to be in that fourth spot in the rotation,” Rojas said. “You have to go off the stuff and the same stuff that we saw last year play at the big-league level is the stuff we’re seeing now.”

The Mets will also win if their offense continues to produce like they did on Tuesday as Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso each hit a two-run home run.

In addition, New York was patient at the plate and drew eight walks.

–Field Level Media

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