Typically when your starting pitcher ties a 50-year old record, your team wins the game. Unfortunately, it was not the case for Aaron Nola and the Phillies on Friday.
Aaron Nola was the main character in game one of the Phillies’ doubleheaders against the Mets on Friday afternoon. The game, a seven-inning contest, had a total of seven hits and three runs between the two teams. Nola was electric on the day, pitching 5.1 shutout innings with two hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.
A 51-Year Record Matched by Aaron Nola
On April 22nd, 1970, Tom Seaver pitched a two-hitter for the Mets against the San Diego Padres. Seaver struck out 19 batters on the game, an incredible feat in and of itself. The future Hall of Famer set the MLB record for most consecutive strikeouts on the day, striking out the final 10 batters he faced.
The record would stand uncontested for 51 years until a seven-inning game in June of 2021 stood to challenge the record.
How it Happened
After hitting Jeff McNeil on only his second pitch, a knuckle-curve, Nola appeared to be continuing his recent struggles on the mound. A double from Francisco Lindor added to the concern early on. Four pitches into the game, Nola found himself pitching with two runners in scoring position.
Left-handed Michael Conforto stepped up to the plate next, finding himself working under a 1-2 count. Nola got him to buckle on a 78 MPH knuckle curve inside, the first out of the inning. Nola would then proceed to strike out Pete Alonso on a 2-2 knuckle curve to the outside part of the plate. Three consecutive knuckle curves later, Nola had Dominic Smith looking for an offspeed pitch on an 0-2 count. Nola instead threw a 92 MPH sinker for a called third strike, working his way out of the jam.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the fourth, and Nola has struck the entire Mets batting order consecutively as he finds himself facing Conforto yet again. Nola works Conforto to another 1-2 count, where he attempts to get him swinging on another knuckle curve. When Conforto doesn’t bite, Nola throws a changeup in the lower-inside corner, catching Conforto swinging for the 10th consecutive strikeout of the game.
With a chance to break Seaver’s record, Nola worked Alonso to a 1-2 count, where he tried to catch him on a sinker outside. Alonso pulled the ball into the opposite field, barely landing fair along the right-field line. Alonso’s double ended the streak for Nola as he tied Seaver’s record set 51 years ago.
A Much-Needed Outing for Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola has had it rough as of late. Prior to tonight’s gem, Nola held a 5.85 ERA in the month of June. He has only averaged 5.0 innings per outing on the month with 13 runs scored and 19 strikeouts. The Phillies picked Nola up over that stretch, scoring 42 runs for Nola in his four starts on the month. So, of course, it is only logical that the Phillies only score one run on the day when Nola has an electric performance.
Oh, and by the way, Nola was the one who picked up the RBI, scoring Nick Maton in the top of the fifth to give himself a lead.
The Collapse That Followed
Nola would continue to pitch another into the sixth inning, accumulating two more strikeouts in the process. After two runners reached base, Joe Girardi did what Joe Giradi does: double switches out his pitcher early on. Luke Williams entered to play third while Jose Alvarado entered to pitch.
Just hours after Girardi announced that Alvarado has usurped Hector Neris as the team’s closer, Alvarado continued in what has become a Phillies bullpen tradition: blown saves.
In the bottom of the seventh, with a 1-0 lead over the Mets, Alvarado started the inning with what should have been a simple comebacker to the mound off Luis Guillorme. Until he threw it way past Rhys Hoskins’ head, allowing Guillorme to advance to second base. After a groundout advanced Guillorme to third base, Lindor hit a two-out single into center field, tying the game at 1-1. Though the run goes down as unearned, that marks the Phillies bullpen’s 17th blown save of the year.
The Phillies, of course, went on to lose game one in the bottom of the eighth inning on a walkoff single from Dominic Smith.
Photo Credit: John Jones/Icon Sportswire