Phillies’ September slump continues as Nola struggles and offense fades originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
CHICAGO — Just when you thought it was going to be a September to remember for Aaron Nola, the old demons surfaced again.
A bad entrance. A bad defeat.
do that very lousy 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night for a Phillies team that is struggling so hard to secure its first playoff berth in a decade that now you have to wonder if they can do it.
The Phils have lost nine of their last 12 and their control of the final NL wild-card spot is down to half a game.
Not exactly what you’d call a final kickoff, as they fell to 10-13 in September with eight games remaining.
Nola gave up four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but that was only part of the reason the Phillies lost.
The offense has generated just three runs on consecutive losing nights to the Cubs. In this latest loss, the Phillies went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
Is the pressure of the playoff race getting the best of these hitters?
“I don’t know,” manager Rob Thomson said. “I think sometimes they’re trying to do too much. I’m not sure if that’s pressure, but I think there are other times during the season where they try to do too much. We’re getting a lot of runners on base. We just didn’t get the big hit. We’ve Had stretches like that before. We’ll get out of it.
“We have to fight this and keep moving forward, and that’s what this group usually does. We’ll stay positive, keep things simple and get back to basics. When we’re at the plate, get good pitches to hit and use.” the whole field
“By hitting with runners in scoring position, we’re the best in the league (a .274, best in the MLB, entering Wednesday) over the course of the year. We’re just not doing it right now, but I have a feeling. that we’ll do it.”
A couple of Cubs rookies took him to the Phillies on Wednesday night.
In just his third major league start, right-hander Hayden Wesneski held the Phillies to one run over five innings. Christopher Morel’s three-run homer in the fifth was the big hit of the game.
Nola has had some well-documented problems this past September. He had a 6.19 ERA in six starts last September and a 6.51 ERA in five starts in September 2019.
He seemed to be well on his way to rewriting the script this September. He had allowed just five runs in 21⅔ in his first four starts this September and opened Wednesday’s game with four scoreless innings before the Cubs sent nine men to the plate and scored four times in the fifth. In the inning, a potential double play went unresolved and Nola hit a batter. With one out, he tried to ride a Morel fastball on a full count and the rookie ran it over the left-field wall to break a 1-1 tie.
“I got him to swing and miss (on a fastball) at 3-1, so I was all in to throw it again,” Nola said. “I missed the location.
“It’s frustrating. I felt good, but that fifth inning just got away from me.”
Morel, 23, is becoming a prominent Phillies killer. In five games against the Phillies this season, he has three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. Morel hit a solo homer off Zack Wheeler to help the Cubs beat the Phillies, 2-1, on Tuesday night.
The Cubs, playing the streak at 69-86, have beaten the Phillies in all five meetings between the teams this season. They’re the new Miami Marlins, wreaking havoc on the Phillies’ playoff chances.
The Phillies and Cubs wrap up their season series on Thursday afternoon. Another Phillies loss would leave them tied with the Brewers for the final wild-card spot in the NL with a week to go. The Phils have a tiebreaker over the Brewers, but the champagne would taste pretty flat if that was their entry into the postseason.
The Phillies haven’t had a winning September since 2017. They’ve suffered some nasty meltdowns in late September when their playoff drought reached a decade last year.
Last season, the Phillies lost six of their last seven.
In 2020, they have lost seven of their last eight.
In 2019, they lost nine of their last 12.
In 2018, they lost nine of their last 11.
The pattern continues this September. The Phils have eight games to stop him and save his season.
“We didn’t make it today,” Kyle Schwarber said. “We have to learn from it and try to win tomorrow.
“Obviously we’re not happy with what’s going on. We want to score runs. The most important thing is we have to stay positive. Just because we’re on the last road trip and pushing for a wild card spot, we can’t let those thoughts get away. get in our heads. We have to have the same thought process we’ve had all year. Fight, scratch and scratch to win a baseball game. Don’t look too far. This is a tough game. and if you don’t enjoy these times, it makes it that much harder. Just go out there and try to party like it’s opening day or mid-July.”