Nationals 5, Phillies 4: Defense and bullpen conspire to ruin Aaron Nola's latest gem

Nationals 5, Phillies 4: Defense and bullpen conspire to ruin Aaron Nola's latest gem


Aaron Nola out-pitched three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer for the second time in a week, but the Phillies blew a three-run lead in an awful 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Nola went seven innings and scattered four hits. One of the two runs he gave up was unearned.

Nola allowed two runs in the seventh, one coming on an error. The Phils led, 3-2, to open the top of the ninth. Tommy Hunter walked Bryce Harper to lead off the inning. Pat Neshek then allowed a two-run homer to Anthony Rendon and it went downhill from there.

Nola's ERA is 2.10, second best in the NL to the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who entered his start at Chicago on Tuesday night with a 1.71 ERA. Scherzer has a 2.22 ERA. One of these three is going to win the NL Cy Young Award.

The race
The Phillies have lost eight of 10 and 14 of their last 21. They entered the night trailing first-place Atlanta by 3½ games in the NL East. The Braves beat Tampa Bay, 9-5, to increase their lead to 4½ games.

A wasteful team
In the last week, the Phils have suffered four losses in which they have blown a sizable lead. They have blown a pair of 4-1 leads, a 5-0 lead and a 3-0 lead.

More Nola
Nola struck out eight. He got Harper three times, on an 0-2 changeup, a full-count changeup and a 1-2 curveball. Last week in Washington, Nola blew two 95-mph fastballs by Harper with the game on the line in the eighth inning of a 2-0 win. Nola has all the weapons.

Walks kill
Hunter walked Harper on six pitches to lead off the ninth. Rendon hit a 1-2 slider against Neshek to put the Nats ahead.

Grind ‘em down
For much of the night, Gabe Kapler was a happy man. His team grinded out at-bats, saw a lot of pitches and got into the Nats’ bullpen early. That's the style of ball Kapler likes.

Scherzer was gone after five innings and 99 pitches. Nick Williams had an at-bat in the fourth inning that surely excited Kapler. He saw 11 pitches — and fouled off seven of them — before looking at a fastball down the middle for a third strike. Maybe Williams just got tired. But so, too, did Scherzer. He allowed a two-run homer to Jorge Alfaro the next inning as the Phillies went up, 3-0. Odubel Herrera gave the team a 1-0 lead with a homer in the fourth.

Another error
Nola took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning and gave up two runs. One came when first baseman Carlos Santana made a throwing error. It was the Phillies’ 101st error of the season, the second most in the majors. Defense remains an issue for the club.
And another error
After going up 4-3 in the ninth, the Nats scored another run on a costly throwing error by catcher Alfaro.

That error was the Phils' 102nd. St. Louis entered the day with 102 errors, most in the majors. The Phils might win that race, after all.

The Nats' fifth run was huge because it allowed them to hold off the Phils after they had rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth on back-to-back doubles by Williams and Wilson Ramos. The game ended when pinch-runner Vince Velasquez left early from second base on a fly ball to center field and was called out on a double play. It was a surreal ending — and another miscue for a team that is slowly imploding under the weight of its own mistakes.

Another small crowd
Though the Phillies have struggled recently, they are still in a pennant race and there is excitement in that. However, many fans have not bought in and it has shown the last two nights at the turnstiles.

The paid attendance for Tuesday night’s game was just 21,083. That’s 23,000 below capacity and not what you’d expect for a showdown between two of the game’s best pitchers.

The paid attendance on Monday night was just 21,261 and the actual in-house number was about 15,000, according to a person in the know.

Whatever the actual number was Tuesday night, it’s worth pointing out that the fans who did come out were lively, supportive and loud — at least until the Phillies imploded in the late innings. Then the crowd let its frustration be heard and it was hard to argue with them.

Joey Bats arrives
The Phillies acquired slugger Jose Bautista in a waiver trade with the Mets earlier in the day and he was in uniform for the game.

Bautista will fill a distinct role for the club. He will come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, most often against lefties, and get an occasional start in right field against lefties.

Bautista had 55 hits in part-time duty with the Braves and Mets this season. He hit 11 homers.

Bautista struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.

Up next
The Phils and Nationals close out the series on Wednesday night with Jake Arrieta (9-9, 3.37) opposing Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (7-11, 4.35). 

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Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

With no baseball games to manage, Joe Girardi is leaning into one of his biggest hobbies.

"I love to cook so I've kinda broadened what I cook," Girardi told Mike Missanelli late last week. "I've been making this Nutella pizza, the simplest thing to make."


"You just buy the dough that's pre-made," the skipper said. "You cook it for about seven, eight minutes at 450 (degrees), then you pull it out and you put the Nutella on it and you put strawberries or bananas, whatever you like, and a little powdered sugar and it's a great dessert. 

"The kids absolutely love it. That has been my new thing."

Kind of like a crepe — there's sweet and there's savory. Depending on how much Nutella you slather on there, you're looking at about 500 to 600 calories for one piece and 60 to 70% of your daily sugar intake. Every calorie matters during such a sedentary period! I am not proud to say I gained six pounds in the first three weeks of the quarantine.

Girardi, like practically everyone else, is making the most of the extra family time he's getting with his 20-year-old daughter Serena, 18-year-old son Dante and 13-year old daughter Lena. 

"I find myself cooking every night," Girardi said. "I think I've picked up from a restaurant one time. I love to cook so it works out and my wife loves to clean up so it works even better."

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The best Philly products we've gotten home delivered during self-quarantine


The best Philly products we've gotten home delivered during self-quarantine

This would have been the weekend many of us visited Citizens Bank Park to get our first fill of spring baseball of the season. There’s nothing quite like strolling Ashburn Alley and smelling the sausages grilling and seeing that bright green grass for the first time in months.

I’m really missing a classic hot dog and cold beer at the ball park. But with the absence of some pleasures, many of us around town have had a little extra cash in our pockets and have been getting some of our favorite things delivered right to our homes.

Here’s a list of some of the best things I and a few of my NBC Sports Philadelphia coworkers have gotten delivered over the past few weeks from some of our favorite Philly spots. All caveats about tipping extremely generously and handling your goods in a responsible manner apply.

1. Rival Bros. coffee — listen, I could have put beer first, but honestly a good cup a coffee in the morning is the start to what kind of day we’re going to have. Rival Bros. happens to be my local coffee shop and they ship which I am incredibly thankful for. ReAnimator and Ultimo are two other great local options.

2. Tired Hands beer (or Forest and Main on Saturdays) — Delicious craft beer delivered to your door. Not everything about being stuck at home is so bad. There are obviously dozens of local craft beer spots around town you can hit up, I just happen to go with these two to start. At the end of these long days, a nice heady pint can do wonders.

3. Fresh meat from Reading Terminal Market — I’m honestly not sure how this works, but my wife ordered some fantastic meat from a service called Mercato where they’ll shop the market for you. You can even get cookies or a nice baguette delivered. Guess who is making short ribs tonight?

4. Cheese from Di Bruno Bros. — Again, you can get a ton of stuff delivered from Di Brunos online shop. Treat yourself to some Piave or aged Gouda this weekend and you’ll be a little happier at home. They’ll even ship pretty far, so you can also send people you’re thinking about a nice gift basket. My parents out in the burbs are going to enjoy a nice cheese plate this weekend.

5. Federal Donuts -- Fresh donuts at your door will not only cheer up anyone you're stuck in a house with but you can eat as many as you like because it's a sin to let a donut go to waste.

6. Philadelphia Distilling -- With PA Wine and Spirits shops closed and their website barely usable, go direct to the distiller who will ship to your home in Pennsylvania for $10. A dirty martini can cheer the wife up pretty quickly. Also good for helping you fall asleep during these stressful times.

7. A new hoodie and sweatpants — Gotta be comfy 24-7 and this is the time for elastic waistbands to truly shine. If you’re looking for a local shop, give Lapstone & Hammer a visit. Ben Simmons rocks it.

Here are some of the best things my NBC Sports Philadelphia coworkers have had delivered:

Anthony’s Coffee and Chocolates -- If you’ve ever walked through the Italian Market and followed your heart, as well as nose, in to the glorious place that is Anthony’s, you know that going into that store physically is a religious experience. They have some of the best chocolate in the city, and luckily they deliver, so I’ve still gotten my fix. The bad part is now being trapped inside with an overwhelming amount of chocolate and no one to eat it but myself. -Erin Dunne

Famous 4th Street Deli -- What's better than corned beef piled highonrye bread slathered in swiss cheese, thousand island, and cole slaw? Nothing. So support local business  and get a Famous 4th St. "super reuben." -Ashley Hall

Termini Bros. -- We placed an order from Termini Brothers Bakery for ourselves and also as a gift to send our family. Zeppole for us and assorted Italian cookies for my family. Everybody is a bit happier when they have Italian pastries. -Amy Fadool

Barcelona Wine Bar -- Without the ability to drink cocktails on their gorgeous Passyunk patio, I have turned to getting their extremely convenient cocktail kits, loaves of fresh baked bread, and cheese selection to go, which you can pair with the half-priced bottles of wine deal they are offering. I sat very close to a house plant while enjoying my “Guns n’ Roses” cocktail kit. -Erin Dunne

Art Supplies -- Like many, I’ve had a bunch of extra time on my hands — and when I get bored — I get crafty. I’ve ordered so much art supplies, a small elementary school could probably be stocked for a month. From new paints and brushes to markers and even 2,000 popsicle sticks. Why do I need 2,000 popsicle sticks? I’m still trying to figure that out … I’ll just say I saw a concept on TikTok and want to attempt to execute it. It’s been fun tapping back into this side of my life, since I’m normally too busy for it. I’m excited to see what I can create next, including some Philly-teams-inspired art. -Brooke Destra