Phillies to use an opener in front of Bailey Falter vs. Giants

Nola does his job without run support, and now Phils turn to an opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies’ blueprint for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the last-place Rockies at Coors Field included having Opening Day starter Aaron Nola pitch well enough for the team to win its sixth straight.

Like just about everything that happened in the Mile High City yesterday, that didn’t go according to plan.

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Yes, Nola pitched well enough to win. He pitched seven innings, allowing four runs. In the hitter-happy environment of the Mile High City, that often gets the job done. This time it didn’t. The Phillies were blanked for the fourth time this year in a 4-0 loss.

They’ll try to get back in the win column Monday night in San Francisco and, if their recent pattern holds, it’s a game that holds at least some symbolic significance.

Think about it. The Phillies had won five in a row, a season high. Before that, they’d lost six in a row. Immediately prior to that, they’d won four straight and seven of eight. So the last thing they want right now is to look like they’re starting another losing streak.

Making this proposition even more interesting is that left-hander Bailey Falter will be on the mound wearing the road grays against the Giants.


He’ll be making his first appearance since giving up five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park on May 6, which raised his earned run average to 5.75 and lowered his record to 0-6.

He also won’t start. Manager Rob Thomson has indicated that the Phillies will use an “opener” and then bring in Falter after the first inning. As NBC Sports analyst Ben Davis has pointed out, Falter has a 7.71 first-inning ERA this year and a .323 opponents’ batting average the first time through the order.

Thomson hadn’t announced who will pitch the first inning, but Matt Strahm and Andrew Bellatti have been mentioned as possibilities. LHP Alex Wood (0-0, 2.45) is scheduled to start for the Giants.

While the Phillies are still waiting for Nola to get on an extended roll, he didn’t get a lot of support from his teammates offensively or defensively on Sunday. Trea Turner made a throwing error in the first inning and Edmundo Sosa a fielding error in the second.


That may have opened the door to an additional Colorado run, but it also meant Nola threw 44 pitches in the first two innings. He still managed to complete seven innings for the second time this year.

“We came out and didn’t play one of our better games defensively in the first and second innings,” Thomson said. “Put a lot of pitches on Nola and I thought he was fantastic. He only gave up a couple hard hits all day.”


All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto returned to the lineup Sunday after missing one game with a sprained right pinky finger and showed no lingering effects from the inning. He went 2-for-4 at the plate although replay showed that his double in the second inning should have been ruled foul.