Phillies turn to ace Nola vs. Mets’ Matz

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After a dramatic walk-off victory Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies will look for their second win in a row when they host the New York Mets on Saturday.

Bryce Harper singled home Roman Quinn in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 6-5 win to help offset a three-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the week.

“This was a very important win for us,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

The Phillies will hand the ball on Saturday to their ace, right-hander Aaron Nola, who is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA. Nola has rung up 22 strikeouts in his past two starts, covering 14 innings.

Nola holds an impressive 7-1 record and a 3.13 ERA in 13 career starts against the Mets.

Nola’s last start was stellar. He gave up only two hits and one run in eight innings. He left with a 13-1 lead and watched as the Phillies had to hold on for a 13-8 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

“Aaron did not want to come out,” Girardi said. “But sometimes I feel that it’s my job to protect players from themselves, right? And I feel bad pulling him. I told him, I understand if he’s upset with me. I’m OK with that. But the prize is not in the month of August. And we need him to be healthy.”

The Phillies’ bullpen has struggled all season, and closer Hector Neris absorbed his second blown save by allowing the tying run to score in the ninth inning on Friday.

“That’s going to come around,” Nola said of the bullpen. “I know it. It’s still kind of early for us.”

Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto smashed a three-run home run on Friday, his eighth homer of the season.

Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back home runs for the Mets.

The Mets might need more than five runs in support of Saturday’s struggling starter, left-hander Steven Matz.

In four starts this season, Matz is 0-3 record with an 8.20 ERA. Matz has allowed eight home runs in 18 2/3 innings, and he gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Washington Nationals on Monday.

In Matz’s career against the Phillies, he is 2-4 mark with a 5.48 ERA in 11 games, 10 starts.

“It seems like they were seeing me really well,” Matz said of the Nationals. “I felt like I had good stuff. Normally when I feel this good, I’m able to locate the ball. They were getting to me. I have to get with (pitching coach Jeremy) Hefner and make the adjustments, because two games like this is unacceptable.”

Mets manager Luis Rojas pointed to another reason for Matz’s early-season struggles.

“His mechanics, when he’s about to release it, about to throw it, you can see he’s holding himself back a little bit,” Rojas said. “It can definitely cause a tip.”

The Mets’ Pete Alonso went 0-for-5 on Friday, dropping his average to .225. Last season, Alonso hit .260 with 53 home runs and 120 RBIs on his way to being named National League Rookie of the Year.

“For me, the biggest thing throughout this entire thing is to stay calm and trust myself,” Alonso said. “I know what type of player I can be. For me, I know the sky’s the limit.”

–Field Level Media

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