By Sam Bush
Maybe because our hopes were too high (sorry, Harry Kalas!).
Maybe because we overestimated the Phils offseason moves that added big bats like Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos.
Or maybe the owners lockout that postponed spring training two weeks has resulted in the hitters not catching up to the pitchers yet.
Whatever the reason, the sad fact is that after three weeks of this season, the Phils look no better than they were in 2021, when they missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season.
The only morsel of good news last night was he reemergence of Aaron Nola as a quality starter.
Unfortunately, he was matched against the Brewers’ Eric Lauer, who struck out a career-high 13 over six innings, Christian Yelich hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth and the Brewers won 1-0 at CBP.
Lauer and Nola took no-decisions in a pitchers’ duel that saw the starters combine for 22 strikeouts. Nola allowed one hit and struck out nine in seven shutout innings.
The Brewers finally broke through in the ninth against Corey Knebel (0-1). Jace Peterson singled leading off and moved to third on Andrew McCutchen’s one-out single. Knebel, who saved 57 games in five seasons with the Brewers, then gave up Yelich’s sac fly to left field that scored Peterson.
Schwarber erupted in disgust about a called third strike against Hader and was ejected in the ninth by plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Schwarber slammed his bat, slammed his helmet and wildly gestured at Hernandez in a highlight-worthy meltdown before he was cheered off the field. Both teams had issues with Hernandez all game.
“Everyone kind of saw what was going on,” Schwarber said. “I’m not here to bury anyone, but that wasn’t very good. You wish that, I don’t know how to really say it, it just wasn’t very good.”
Seven total pitchers combined for 26 strikeouts.
“I’m not going to say he was good, because he wasn’t,” Milwaukee catcher Omar Narvaez said. “At least he was consistent for both teams. Sometimes you’ve got to adjust and don’t leave the decision to the umpire.”
Schwarber led off the fifth with a headfirst slide into second for a double and Alec Bohm walked. Lauer then matched his previous career high for Ks when he got Johan Camargo. He gave up a single and a foul pop out that left the bases loaded for Rhys Hoskins.
Lauer hit a career-best 10 strikeouts when he got Hoskins swinging on a 95 mph four-seam fastball to end the rally.
The Phillies were booed off the field.
Lauer struck out Bryce Harper for a third time leading off the sixth. Castellanos whiffed on three pitches. J.T. Realmuto doubled, but Lauer escaped the inning by catching Schwarber on a called strike three.
Nola took advantage of the generous strike zone and was just as sharp. He easily had his best start of the season — he allowed four runs in six innings on opening day — and needs more outings like Sunday to help put the Phillies in the postseason for the first time since 2011. Nola made his 115th start since 2018, the most of any pitcher during that span.