ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The day before Aaron Nora and Zac Eflin shared the MLB mound, they did what has come naturally for years.
“We were just playing at home,” said Nora.
like in the old days.
Nora and his wife have a home near the Phillies’ training facility in Clearwater, Florida. Ephrin is now playing for the Rays after eight years with the Phillies. Monday was a day off for both teams.
But there was a match on Tuesday, and for the first time since their 2015 meeting, Nora and Ephrin weren’t on the same side. So the friends wished each other well. And she agreed to meet when we were done.
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They then dueled for seven innings. Nora leaned against Ephrin’s trademark sinker. Ephrin snapped a curveball that rivaled Nora’s signature bender.
And by a small margin, Nola beat his best friend in an impressive 71/3 inning to win 3-1, and the Phillies edged the Brewers and Giants by one point to claim the last wild card spot in the National League. bottom.
“To be honest, it felt like I was facing my brother.” [Austin]’” Nora referred to her 2021 showdown with the Padres. “Some kind of emotion, nerves. But it was great, dude. It was fun facing Eph. We’ve been together for a very long time.”
They were teammates at Double A Reading in 2015. Nola supported Ephrin after a series of knee surgeries. Ephrin supported Nora after September’s collapse and watched him grow into a top starter in the rotation. Nora got married last December. Efrin was his groomsman.
So what better time for Nola to create gems? July 4th. Play against the strongest attacking team in the American League. Head-to-head with Ephrin.
It wasn’t clear to catcher JT Realmuto if Nola was nervous. “This game was more frustrating than any of the World Series or playoff games last year,” Ephrin said.
Clearly, it was more than a fresh start for the two.
“Two best friends are working on it,” Bryce Harper said. “It was really nice to see.”
Ephrin, who receives his National League championship ring from the Phillies on Wednesday, struck out in the first inning. Nora struck out four of the first five batters. Ephrin blinked in the second and allowed back-to-back doubles by Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm.
However, it remained 1–0 through the seventh inning, when Harper hit a Sakano double and Stott scored by driving a two-strike sinker to the right side to score.
“Both of them threw great balls,” Realmut said. “I know we both had mixed feelings before the match. I wish Zach wasn’t throwing so well, but it was cool to see them both throwing the ball so well. “
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Ephrin said: I was there for eight years, [eight] A few months ago we were in the World Series. It was really fun to see so many familiar faces. [Stinks] We lost the game, but I was happy with how we handled the ball. “
The first half may have been able to draw out Nora’s ability to the fullest, which was a disappointing result. A few days ago, he looked back at the starting pitcher that put the Phillies back in contention, saying, “We’ve got to get a little bit better, a little bit more consistent.”
Nora showed off a curveball, and Realmut said, “It was the sharpest I’ve had this year.” He also continued the recent trend of throwing sinkers more often.
And instead of increasing the chances of a rally that had been sluggish for much of the season, Nola stalled runners in the second, third, fourth and sixth and never lost control of the game. rice field.
Nora knew he didn’t have much recovery time between innings. Not at Ephrin’s speed of work. Perhaps it was a good thing to keep Nora in rhythm.
“He was mean again tonight,” Nora said. “He was rolling. It was fun playing against him.”
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They exchanged jerseys after the game. Nora said he resisted the temptation to bet his dinner on the game, but he planned to meet to mark the occasion, as he always did.
“It was fun to throw back and play against each other.” [the Phillies]’ said Ephrin. “There are a lot of great people out there.
“I am so grateful for Aaron’s friendship and guidance and what a teammate he is. He really helped me find myself in the big leagues, and it was really cool to hit it off with him.”
Harper just misses
Harper’s lifetime home run record continued, albeit slowly.
With two outs in the eighth inning, Harper hit the ball 382 feet into the right field wall, out of Josh Lowe’s reach. But it stayed in the park and Harper didn’t run out of the box, forcing him to settle for a slugging single.
“I thought it was a fly,” Harper said. Harper had 143 plate appearances in 32 games since Atlanta on May 25. “I thought he was out.
Manager Rob Thomson said he plans to discuss not hustling with Harper.
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Marsh in charge
Center fielder Brandon Marsh took the pinch hitter in the fifth inning, regretting his lack of aggressiveness against a fly ball that landed between him and Kyle Schwarber on Sunday against the Nationals.
Christian Besancourt took the lead with a drive into the left-center gap. However, as Marsh and Schwarber concentrated, Marsh claimed the ball, slipped his feet first and caught Schwarber as it peeled off.
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