SARASOTA, Fla. - The sold-out crowd of 10,276 at Spectrum Field on Saturday gave Aaron Nola a taste of what to expect on March 28 when he makes his second consecutive opening day start.
The difference for Nola this time around, aside from the incredible hype surrounding this Phillies team, is that he won't be opening on the road.
What's Nola expecting the atmosphere to be like for that 3:05 p.m. game against the Braves?
"Oh, crazy," he said. "Packed house. I haven't opened up in Philly since I've been here. It was a packed house with Bryce yesterday and I'm pretty sure with the hype already, it's gonna be a packed house."
That will be the case at least 81 times this season. Phillies fans came out in droves on Saturday and made the hour trip to Sarasota on Sunday to watch Nola make his second start of the spring against the Orioles.
Nola struck out six over three innings, exiting after a hit began the fourth. He was a bit wild in the first inning, cutting his fastball more than he intended, but he had the curveball working and hit a groove in the second and third innings.
"I think it's gonna take a few more outings, but I'm getting close, I feel like," Nola said.
Monday's game in Clearwater against the Rays will be another capacity crowd, with Bryce Harper expected to make his first start as a Phillie in right field.
And in a few short weeks, the results of Harper's at-bats and Nola's starts will actually matter.
"All we've heard is how great it is with the atmosphere," Nola said. "Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, all those guys, Chooch, Howie, Kyle Kendrick the other day. I would see it on TV, too."
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