Philadelphia is a football city. That much is pretty apparent, but it is also a town that is pretty loyal to all of its teams. That loyalty wavers depending on what season it is, but the conversation in the town will always be dominated by the Eagles unless there is a championship run by one of the teams.
Even as the Phillies have made some noise in the playoff chase, noise that still hasn’t died down, most of the talk about town has been about the leadup to this football season. In order to keep pace with them and have people care about them and their fortunes, the Phillies have to win and win often. What they can’t do is lose games to teams they should beat.
Aaron Nola needed to win this game. He had to come out and pitch like he has in the past when the debate about his being an ace was one worth having (side note: it isn’t anymore). For the first few innings, he did just that. He allowed only one hit through the first four innings, striking out seven and generally dominating the Rockies’ lineup. The Phillies gave him support thanks to an RBI double to J.T. Realmuto in the second inning, while Nola helped himself by singling in Realmuto in the fourth.
However, the fifth inning bugaboo that has for some reason haunted Nola all season came back up and bit him in the butt once again. Facing Garrett Hampson with two on and one out, Nola hung a curveball in the middle of the plate that Hampson didn’t miss.
Garrett Hampson's 10th HR of the season pic.twitter.com/Q3t8Q4FIzp— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 12, 2021
Somehow, though, Nola would stick around until the sixth, being relieved by Connor Brogdon, who induced an inning ending double play. In the bottom half of the inning, Realmuto would single, steal second, get grounded over to third, then score the tying run on a wild pitch, a microcosm of his outstanding day at the plate.
Hector Neris replaced Brogdon in the seventh. Now, lately, Neris has been great. So much so, there should be renewed talk of his getting a contract extension. Today, he wasn’t great. Facing Hampson with a man on, Neris missed badly with a fastball and Hampson didn’t miss.
Ryan Braun, Cody Ross, Yadier Molina... Garrett Hampson— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) September 12, 2021
In the eighth, MVP candidate Bryce Harper tried his best to bring the team back, swatting a solo home run that brought the team within one, but that would be as close as they got. Even with a leadoff runner getting on in the ninth, they could not get the run across the plate and the game was over. The Rockies took the game and the series.
The Phillies do not play tomorrow, so they will have to dwell on this for a few days. They must come out Tuesday and be ready to sweep the next two series. It’s time to go on a run.