Today, we got our Aaron Nola back. And to celebrate, the Phillies lost a 1-0 game to the Pirates in which they couldn’t support their starting pitcher who made just one mistake in his return from the disabled list.
Let’s start with the good stuff, and that’s Aaron Nola. Returned from the DL and starting for the first time since April, Nola looked damn fine.
Tommy Joseph will hit for Aaron Nola in the 8th. Nola's line: 7 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 2 bb, 5 k, 89 pitches (57 strikes).— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 21, 2017
It’s almost entirely foreign for a Phillies pitcher to go seven innings. Hell, it’s alien for them to go six! But Aaron Nola, he doesn’t care what all the other starters are doing. He’s going to blaze his own trail. “Yeah, Bob, I know that all the other starters are going like four or five innings, but what if I pitched longer? Could it hurt to see what would happen?”
Nola’s only mistake came in the sixth. He allowed two singles, and when a groundout allowed them to move to second and third, Pete Mackanin called for an intentional walk to load the bases. I hate that, because it allows for no mistakes. There is no room for error when you choose to load the bases. You have to be absolutely sure you want to play with fire, because getting burned is a major possibility. And Mack got burned. Well, sort of. Nola plunked David Freese with the bases loaded, and in came the day’s only run. From anyone. On either side.
And that’s where the bad of today’s game comes in. The Phillies couldn’t get anything going against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl and the four relievers that followed him. He lasted just five innings, but gave up only one hit. The Phillies would get only two more through the day, for a grand total of three. It was Not Good.
But for the first time in what seems like a millennia, pitching wasn’t the reason the Phillies lost. It was someone else’s fault. Nola gave up one run, but if the pitcher has to be perfect in order for the team to win, they’re not going to win another game possibly ever ever again. The Pirates scored just one run, which is essentially the Pirates saying “I DARE YOU TO BEAT US, LOOK, WE SCORED ONLY ONE RUN, MOST TEAMS COULD BEAT US WITH THEIR EYES CLOSED.” The Phillies aren’t most teams, though. The offense just completely failed. Radio broadcaster Larry Anderson had an opinion about that.
"They looked lifeless. They looked like they didn't want to be out there," Larry Anderson.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) May 21, 2017
Strong words. Can't disagree.
This loss was a tough one, but even tougher is looking at the Phillies’ recent record of non-success.
The Phillies have lost 17 of 21. They have lost seven straight series for the first time since 2006. They are coming home.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) May 21, 2017
At least the Phillies are finding new ways to lose. Today it wasn’t an offense onslaught brought on by terrible pitching, but a pitcher’s duel lost on a bases-loaded HBP.
Only run today scored on HBP. @EliasSports said last happened 7/5/1998, when Scott Erickson hit Chad Curtis w/ bases loaded in NYY 1-0 win.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 21, 2017
UPDATE -- This was first Phillies' 1-0 loss on a bases-loaded HBP since AT LEAST 1908 (maybe ever) ...— Bob Vetrone Jr. (@BoopStats) May 21, 2017
And for that taste of variety, we have Aaron Nola to thank.