After winning the opening game of their doubleheader against the Yankees, the Phillies felt good about their chances in the second game. Their ace Aaron Nola would be opposed by the unspectacular Jonathan Loaisiga, and even though it had been quite some time since the team won one of Nola’s starts, that matchup seemed to be in the Phillies’ favor.
It seemed to favor the Phillies even more when Nola came out dealing like this.
Nola’s Knuckle Curve is DISGUSTING— Starting 9 (@Starting9) August 6, 2020
That kind of swing was common, as Nola had the Yankees’ batters flailing at his pitches all night. He struck out 12 batters in six innings, and if not for the stunted nature of the recent schedule, he probably would have been able to go at least another inning.
The only blemish on Nola’s night came in the second inning when Luke Voit sent a ball deep into the left field stands. But a pitcher should be able to give up one run and still win the game.
Unfortunately, after scoring eleven runs in the opener, the Phillies’ offense took the second game off. In the first two innings, the Phillies did that thing we saw far too often in 2019: Lots of “good at bats” that don’t result in many runs being scored. They made Loasiga throw 46 pitches over the first two innings, but the only run they had to show for it came courtesy of a Andrew Knapp RBI single.
The game's all tied up, courtesy of Andrew Knapp. pic.twitter.com/v5IOQAHThF— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 6, 2020
Once Loaisiga was removed from the game with one out in the third, the Phillies didn’t get another batter on base. As they had one fruitless at bat after another, and Nola’s pitch count began to rise, Phillies fans came to a sad realization: This game would be decided by the bullpen.
The Phillies have played six games this season, and in five of them, at least one reliever has had a disastrous outing. On Wednesday night, it was Tommy Hunter’s turn to be the disaster. He entered the game in the seventh - and final - inning (Hooray for 2020 doubleheader rules!), faced five batters and allowed all of them to reach base. The result was a 3-1 deficit that they would not come back from.
While there’s obviously a huge qualifier on this number, it has been 351 days since the last time the Phillies won an Aaron Nola start. Considering the current state of the bullpen, unless he can pitch a complete game his next time out, that drought might continue to grow.