Nola's older brother gets the last word

June 25th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Anybody.

Anybody but him.

Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola tried to elevate an 0-2 fastball to older brother Austin in the sixth inning Friday night at Petco Park. But Aaron did not elevate the pitch enough, and Austin smacked a single to right field to score the game’s only run in the Phillies’ 1-0 loss to the Padres.

“Of all the people,” Aaron said. “Do it to somebody else.”

Aaron, 29, and Austin, 32, faced each other for the first time in their Major League careers last year. Austin went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout, giving Aaron bragging rights for nearly a year. Aaron gave his older brother the strikeout ball as a Christmas gift.

But now?

“He’ll talk about it obviously,” Aaron said. “It is what it is.”

Will he hear from him tonight?

“Yeah, I’ll hear about it tonight,” Aaron said playfully. “He runs his mouth a lot.”

Said Austin: “Glad we got the win, but then your brother gets the loss. He pitched an unbelievable game. It’s fun to watch him.”

Aaron’s teammates felt as bad as he did about the loss. Maybe more. Nola has been pitching like an NL All-Star this season. He is 4-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts. He is 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his last six.

“We always joke with him -- try to get him a win today,” Kyle Schwarber said. “I feel like we’ve had a couple of those starts where he just throws up a 1 or a 2 or a 0 and we just haven’t been able to score for him.”

The Phillies had their opportunities. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against the Padres. They left 10 runners on base. They left the bases loaded in the third inning. They left two runners on in the fourth and fifth.

They loaded the bases again in the ninth.

Schwarber flied out to deep center field to end it. He hit the ball at 104.4 mph. It had a .660 expected batting average. The Phillies hit a lot of balls like that throughout the night. None of them found grass.

“I’m beating myself up about that one,” Schwarber said. “I can’t believe I let his brother beat him. Gosh.”

It isn’t easy facing any big leaguer, but there is an extra layer when facing somebody who literally knows you better than anybody.

Aaron got Austin to ground out on a first-pitch curveball in the second inning. He struck him out looking on a 0-2 sinker in the fourth.

“Man, I was 0-2 the whole game,” Austin said. “Against him, the past two years I’ve been 0-2. It’s nothing new. He’s one strike, two strikes, I’m like, ‘Good lord.’ And I look up at him, and he’s just locked in.”

Said Aaron: “I think he guessed right with me in the first AB. I was throwing a bunch of fastballs early and then he thought I'd drop a curveball in, and he put a pretty good swing on it. I guess we think alike. He's hitting the ball pretty hard. He's always been a patient hitter and a guy who doesn't chase much out of the strike zone.”

Austin went up and got that 0-2 fastball in the sixth.

And now big brother has bragging rights.