This past month or so has been the most difficult time Aaron Nola has had in his short professional career, and it may be the worst slump of his life. Although he made it past the 4th inning in this one, something he hadn’t done in his previous four starts, he still struggled early and allowed the Royals (43-37) to score 5 runs in the 2nd inning on their way to a 6-2 victory over the Phillies (36-46).
The Phillies offense finally went silent after an impressive showing on the road trip, and powering their way to victory two nights ago. The Phillies were only able to score 2 runs off 7 hits, with the runs coming in their first and last innings. An infield single by Maikel Franco got the Phillies on the board in the 1st inning, but the team would fail to score again until the bottom of the 9th when Cesar Hernandez drove in Carlos Ruiz on an RBI single to left. The Royals would score 6 runs in between the two Phillies run, with 5 of them coming in the 2nd inning. Kendrys Morales hit the first of his two home runs in that 5 run second inning, with the first one being a 3-run homer that gave the defending champs the 5-1 lead. Morales’ second homer came all the way in the 8th inning, this one being a solo homer to left that pushed the lead to 6-1. Franco, Hernandez, and Peter Bourjos led the way on offense for the Phillies, as they were the only three players to record multiple hits in the game.
Aaron Nola has struggled early and often in his last 4 starts, failing to make it past the 4th inning in all of them. But last night, even with surrendering 5 runs in the 2nd, Nola was able to work through 5 innings and showed signs that he may be turning the corner. After the disastrous 2nd inning, Nola threw 3 solid, scoreless innings and showed that he may be returning to his early season form very soon. Nola still suffered the loss as he drops to 5-8 on the season with a 4.69 ERA. Kansas City starter Danny Duffy pitched a very solid game, and did not let his first inning run affect him as he would end up going 8 and 2/3 innings. Duffy was one out away from the complete game, but was removed after allowing the Phillies to score their second run of the game. Duffy allowed just the 2 runs on 7 hits in his and 8 and 2/3 innings of work. Duffy earned the win in the game, as he improves 4-1 on the year with a 3.11 ERA.
The Phillies and Royals will play a rubber match this afternoon at 1:35 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies starter Vince Velasquez (6-2, 3.38 ERA) will be making his second start since returning off the disabled list, as he takes on Royals starter Yordano Ventura (6-5, 5.00 ERA). Velasquez will look to help the Phillies earn their second straight series victory, as well as possibly make himself an All-Star candidate with another solid outing.
Photo by Brian Schwenk (via Flickr)