There are pitchers who pay for their mistakes, and then there’s Aaron Nola.
From start to start, inning to inning, batter to batter and pitch to pitch, any outcome is possible for Nola. He can squeeze through a formation with efficiency and keep everyone off base for three or four innings at a time, then unravel in the span of five minutes. He can struggle early and then settle in to deliver a deceptively good start.
The lineup was on display again on Saturday in a 9-0 loss to the Phillies.
Nola struck out the first eight batters he faced and was ahead 1-2 in the count of James Outman before allowing back-to-back doubles and a single in the space of four pitches to Outman, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.
Nola again had two outs and no one on base the next inning after putting out Max Muncy and JD Martinez and then David Peralta pushed him deep.
It was the 10th straight start that Nola allowed a home run. He is the only major league pitcher this season to do so. He has a .99 WHIP batting average and .203 opponents in that span, and his strikeout rate has nearly doubled in his last five starts, but home runs kill.
Trailing by three runs, the Phillies fired Nola for the seventh inning. He put three of the four batters he faced on base and all three scored, turning an OK outing into a bad one. Jeff Hoffman came in relief with two men on base and hit a batter, allowed an RBI groundout, walked Muncy, dropped a three-point bomb to Martinez and a double to Peralta before being lifted.
Manager Rob Thomson had been ejected an inning earlier after the umpire team disputed the number of baseballs Nola was throwing. Nola frequently asks for a new ball, and it can be interpreted that pitchers do this from time to time to play the shot clock, but this was the first time all season that an umpire objected to it in a game involving the Phillies. .
Thomson walked away to a thunderous standing ovation.
The Phillies are 31-33 after losing their six-game winning streak.
They had an early chance to make it a tough game for right-handed flamethrower Bobby Miller, but Brandon Marsh hit with runners in the second-and-third and a second-inning out, and Edmundo Sosa failed with the bases loaded. to end the threat. Miller threw 49 pitches in those first two innings, then settled with just 55 pitches in the next four.
The first three batters in the Phillies batting order – Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper – were a combined 0 for 9 with two walks, although Schwarber continues to swing it well. Two of his outs were well-hit line drives straight to an outfielder.
The Phils turn to Taijuan Walker on Sunday afternoon as they look to leave town with another series win. The Dodgers, who have been plagued by injuries in the rotation, have yet to name a starter.