The same thing keeps happening to Aaron Nola over and over and over again.
He dominates early, misses bats with multiple pitches, racks up strikeouts and appears to be on track for a great start.
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Then he unravels in the middle innings and the Phillies lose.
Nola and Hector Neris were both victimized Sunday on 0-2 counts against the Rockies’ Garrett Hampson, who hit a three-run homer off of Nola and a two-run shot against Neris two innings later in a 5-4 Phillies loss.
The Phillies have given up 16 home runs this season on 0-2 counts, the most in the majors.
Down in Atlanta, the Braves beat the Marlins, pushing the Phils' NL East deficit to 4½ games.
Nola ran through the Rockies for the first four innings Sunday as the Phils built a two-run lead. When he struck out the first batter of the fifth inning, he’d already whiffed eight and set down 13 of the 14 hitters he faced.
But with one out in the fifth, Nola allowed a single to Elias Diaz before Bryce Harper misplayed a ball for a single and Hampson hit a go-ahead bomb.
The Phillies tied the game in the sixth on a wild pitch that scored J.T. Realmuto, but Hampson homered again a half-inning later. Hampson entered the day with a .241 slugging percentage and two home runs on the road all year.
Nola has a 3.26 ERA in the first two innings this season. In innings 3-5, his ERA is 6.01. In the fifth inning, it’s 10.57, worst in the National League.
Nola simply made way too good of a pitch on the 0-2 count to Hampson, hanging a middle-in curveball. It was the third 0-2 homer he’s allowed this season and the 10th he’s allowed after beginning a count 0-2.
The Harper play was pivotal. Charlie Blackmon also had trouble with the sun in right field. Harper did not appear to see it well off the bat, shielded his eyes with his glove and fell to the ground as he attempted to catch it. If he makes that play, it’s possible Nola escapes the inning unharmed and the entire course of the game is different.
But he didn’t. Through 29 starts, Nola is 7-8 with a 4.58 ERA. His opponents have hit .297 with runners in scoring position compared to .222 in his previous six seasons.
The Phils wasted a three-hit day from Realmuto (his best work since August 1) and another home run from Harper (No. 32). They had the tying run on second base with one out in the ninth inning but couldn't capitalize.
This was a pitiful series for the Phillies, who are 72-71 with 19 games left. The Rockies came into Philadelphia with a road record of 18-50 and MLB’s worst batting average, OBP and slugging percentage away from home. The Phillies lost three of four. They are 6-11 this season against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Pirates -- three of the worst teams in baseball.
The Phils are off Monday before hosting the Cubs for three games. They’ll start Kyle Gibson on Tuesday, Ranger Suarez on Wednesday, and Thursday will be a bullpen game. Zack Wheeler and Nola are both projected to pitch next weekend at Citi Field against the Mets.