October 2, 2023

Takeaways after Aaron Nola disappoints in series loss to Braves


Photo via Philadelphia Phillies' Twitter

Well, you can’t blame this one on the bullpen. Phillies starter Aaron Nola would be the first one to tell you that a starting pitcher’s job is to keep his team in the ballgame. He’d also be the first one to tell you he didn’t do that Sunday night.

There are other reasons why the Philadelphia Phillies lost this one to the Atlanta Braves. The offense did little against right-hander Huascar Ynoa, the Braves’ 22-year-old starter.

But it seemed like the Phillies were never really in this one. Nola was tagged for four runs in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils went on to suffer a 6-1 loss in Atlanta.

The Braves ended up taking two of three from the Phillies in the series. The Phils blew three late leads, including two in extra innings, in losing Saturday night’s game. That snapped a five-game winning streak.

The Phils head into Monday’s off day at 18-17. They are 5-11 on the road this season and 81-125 away from Citizens Bank Park since the start of 2018. Atlanta is 17-17.

So far this season, the Phils have played the Braves nine times. They lead the season series, 5-4, with 10 meetings remaining. The next one will come in the second week of June in Philadelphia.

Here’s three takeaways from the loss:

Nola’s disappointing night

Nola was given a quick lead when Andrew McCutchen hit the first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall for a 1-0 lead. However, that lead did not last long as Nola struggled from the beginning. 

Nola walked Braves leadoff man Ronald Acuna Jr. in the bottom of the first inning and allowed three hits later in the inning — an RBI single to Freddie Freeman, an RBI triple to Ozzie Albies, and a two-run homer to Dansby Swanson — as his 1-0 lead turned into a 4-1 deficit.

Two innings later, Freeman jumped on a first-pitch fastball and clobbered it for a solo home run to increase the Braves’ lead to 5-1.

On July 2, 2019, Nola pitched eight shutout innings to lead the Phillies to a win in Atlanta. In his last three starts in Atlanta, however, Nola has lasted just 2⅔, 5 and 4 innings, respectively, while allowing 14 runs. He has taken the loss in all three starts.

Nola won’t have to pitch again in Atlanta until the final week of the season. He, and the Phillies, hope that start means something.

Nola ended up allowing five hits, two of which were home runs, and five runs in four innings of work. He threw 58 pitches, the fewest of his career. After coming out of the game, he sat in the dugout and stared out at the field. He appeared healthy but frustrated. His ERA jumped from 2.89 to 3.59 in the start.

Nola is now 3-2 in eight starts. The Phillies are 5-3 in his starts.

McCutchen’s quick blast

It didn’t take very long for the Phillies to start scoring. On the very first pitch of the game, McCutchen sent a ball over the left-center wall to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

Slow offense

Five runs of support were plenty for Ynoa, who is one of several outstanding young arms in the Braves’ rotation. He held the Phillies to four hits and a run over six innings. He walked one and struck out six.

Phillies hitters had just six hits, struck out nine times, and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Up next

The 18-17 Phillies have an off day Monday night. They’ll head to the nation’s capital to start a new series with the 13-17 Washington Nationals Tuesday behind starter Chase Anderson.

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