Aaron Nola shuts out Mets as Phillies are the first MLB team to 30 wins this season

Philadelphia Phillies

NEW YORK — Aaron Nola unleashed a cutter, inside and at the knees. It was his 59th pitch, a cross between nasty and unhittable. It went for a called third strike for the 15th out against the 15th Mets batter.

And if you didn’t think then that something special might’ve been in the air at Citi Field, consider this: It was the late Roy Halladay’s birthday.

OK, so Nola turned out not to be perfect in the Phillies’ 4-0 whitewashing of the Mets to close the New York half of a home-and-home series, but darned if he wasn’t close. He gave up four hits, all clean, none until the sixth inning, and started what he finished in 109 pitches.

» READ MORE: The Phillies are off to their best start since 1993. How will they handle being frontrunners?

Nola’s fourth career shutout — his first since Aug. 25, 2022, against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park — raised the Phillies’ record to 30-13, best in baseball. They’re the first team to reach 30 wins this season and tied for the second-fastest to 30 wins in franchise history, trailing only the 1976 club, which went 30-11.

Oh, and did we mention they got there without injured shortstop Trea Turner? And banged-up catcher J.T. Realmuto. They also didn’t have Bryce Harper, whom the Phillies scratched less than a half-hour before first pitch because of a migraine.

Sans their three biggest stars, the Phillies played four infielders out of their regular positions and a backup catcher who was starting a third game in a row for the first time in his career.

None of it mattered. Not after the Phillies drew eight — eight! — walks, half of which came in five innings to chase away Mets starter José Buttó. And not with Nola channeling Halladay on what would have been his 47th birthday.

Pitching in a ballpark where he once struck out 10 batters in a row, Nola mixed his pitches like a blender. It helped, too, that he had his sharpest curveball. He struck out Starling Marte on a breaking ball in the first inning and finished with 10 swings and misses on the pitch.

Nola breezed through five innings in only 59 pitches. He got quick outs, mostly on the ground. The Mets didn’t sniff hard contact.

» READ MORE: Phillies scratch Bryce Harper from finale in New York because of migraine

By the time Nola began the sixth inning, the Phillies had capitalized on Buttó’s wildness to give him a 2-0 lead. They forced him to throw 39 pitches in the third inning. For the second consecutive game, Alec Bohm drove in a run on a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Brandon Marsh drew a walk to force in another run.

With a two-run cushion, Nola was cruising. But Tyrone Taylor hit his first pitch of the sixth inning for a single to left field. No problem. Nola regrouped and retired the next three batters.

The seventh inning reflected Nola’s dominance. After Marte blooped a leadoff single to right-center, Nola got Francisco Lindor to line out and Pete Alonso to ground into a double play to finish a no-muss, no-fuss, three-pitch inning.

Whit Merrifield started that double play at third base, with Kody Clemens providing the pivot at second. Bohm started at first base; Stott played shortstop. Once again, it was a lineup jumble.

It didn’t matter. The Phillies tacked on two runs in the top of the ninth, and although Nola gave up two hits in the bottom of the inning, he finished it off to send the teams down the New Jersey Turnpike to continue their series Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

There’s a chance Realmuto might play then. Harper could be back, too. Either way, the Phillies will send another stud starter to the mound, with Ranger Suárez and his 1.50 ERA.

Nola will be a tough act to follow.

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