If you thought Aaron Nola's debut was going to disappoint, you obviously tuned out after the first batter Tuesday night in the Phillies' 1-0 setback against the Rays.
After relenting a leadoff double off the wall, Nola used his poppy 92-94 mph fastball to retire the next three batters in order including two strikeouts, one to Evan Longoria.
"He had a good mound presence," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He didnt look scared, that's the most important thing. He spotted his fastball extremely well. ... He did everything right, we just couldn't muster any offense for him."
After a great second inning, Nola was taken yard on the first pitch of the third by his counterpart, the Rays starting hurler (who pitches in the AL) Nathan Karns. It was the pitchers first career home run, and, obviously, Nola's first allowed. It also gave Tampa a 1-0 lead. A lead that proved insurmountable to the Phillies.
"You have an American League pitcher up there," catcher Cameron Rupp said of the costly dinger, "it's the first pitch of the inning. I've known Nate (Karns) long enough to say a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then."
In the losing effort got Philadelphia some history was made. In true embarrassing fashion, it was the first time in history, during interleague play, that a homer from an AL pitcher held during a 1-0 decision.
After keeping the Rays at bay for a few more frames, Nola poked a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth to pick up his first hit in the big leagues (after recording just two as a minor leaguer).
A handful of scoring chances went unrealized for the Phillies offense in the middle innings, with questionable base-running costing the squad.
It seemed Nola was destined to receive a Cole Hamels-like welcome in his debut, leaving the game after six frames relenting, five hits, a lone run on a homer and six strikeouts (the sixth most strikeouts ever in a Phils debut).
"It was pretty awesome to be up here and feel the energy of the fans out there," Nola said, looking back a few hours at the warm welcome he received from energetic fans. "It was amazing, a good feeling tonight."
Every single one of the Phillies eight baserunners (four hits, three walks and an error) was stranded, as a hard fought and hightly-touted four-game win streak ended with a whimper in front of more than 28,000 fans, the most Citizens Bank Park has welcomed in quite some time.
A pitching staff of no names, let by Karns but also including Steven Geltz and Xavier Cedeno blanked Philly, with Domonic Brown's two hits doing very little to help.