The San Diego Padres fan in front of him turned and held up a high five, but A.J. Nola did not reciprocate.
His oldest son Austin Nola, 32 and the Padres’ catcher, had just singled in a run to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 4-3 in the fifth inning of game two of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday in San Diego.
But the problem was, his youngest son Aaron Nola, 29, was pitching for Philadelphia and gave up the single. He would allow three more runs and take an 8-5 loss to even the series at one game apiece going into Friday’s game three in Philadelphia (7:37 p.m., FS1). Philadelphi won, 2-0, on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, it was the first pitcher vs. batter matchup featuring brother vs. brother in the history of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, which began in 1903.
Austin Nola finished 1-for-2 against his brother and former teammate at LSU in 2012. He grounded out to third base in the second inning in the very first brother vs. brother at-bat in MLB Playoff history. His opposite-field single to right on an 0-2 count in the fifth drove in the first earned run off his brother through 17 innings of postseason pitching this season. Aaron Nola, who is in the postseason for the first time, was 2-0 in the postseason with a 0.00 ERA through 12 2/3 innings coming into the game.
“Very emotional for us,” A.J. Nola told OutKick on Friday. “We’ve been waiting for this moment. Great feeling for both of us.”
A Little League Parents’ Dream
A.J. and his wife Stacie have been flying either from their home in Baton Rouge, La., or from previous playoff game sites to wach their sons play. They will be in Philadelphia Friday night when Philadelphia left-hander Roger Suarez (10-7, 3.65 ERA in Regular Season, 0-2, 2.70 ERA in Postseason) faces San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove (10-7, 2.93 ERA Regular Season, 1-0, 1.38 ERA Postseason).
Both looked torn as Nola rounded first base with the single that ignited the rally against Nola. Neither showed emotion as Padres fans erupted around them.
“Happy for Austin and the Pads. Sad for Aaron,” said A.J. Nola, who was wearing a Phillies jersey and a Padres cap. “I was hoping Aaron would get through six. I was so locked in at that moment and watching how the play unfolded Iguess I looked a bit confused. But I wasn’t.”
Aaron, a first round pick of the Phillies out of LSU in 2014, has been Philadelphia’s ace for years and has been pitching in the Big Leagues since 2015 and was an All-Star in 2018. Austin, who was drafted as a shortstop in the fifth round by the Miami Marlins in 2012 from LSU, spent more than seven years in the minors before switching to catcher at triple-A New Orleans in 2016. He finally got the call in 2019 with Seattle, where he had signed as a free agent. He was traded to San Diego in 2020.
“He almost decided to retire in the minors before the position change,” A.J. Nola said of Austin. “It was close.”
Little brother was very happy for him, but not this week.
“I want to beat him,” Aaron Nola said Wednesday after the game.
Austin Nola Was Ready For 0-2 Pitch From Aaron Nola Again
Austin Nola is now 2-for-9 all-time with two RBIs against his brother in pro ball, having met him in the regular season once in 2021 and once in 2022.
“I feel like every time I face my brother I’m 0-2,” Austin told ESPN after the game Wednesday. “He’s always ahead of me, and I’m always fighting back, trying to just get some barrel somewhere, and just happened to find a good spot for it for us to get a run.”
Austin noticed his parents were conflicted in the stands.
“I think it was probably pretty tough,” Austin said. “I mean, Aaron had a tough outing. He battled, though, made some big pitches in big moments. But, yeah, probably tough for them. He’s been pitching really well.”
Until his older brother showed up.
“And to see that happen probably pretty tough,” Austin said.
“I want to get to the next round and let him go home,” Aaron said.
The next round is the World Series and only one of A.J. Nola’s sons will make it.
“We’re soaking it all in,” A.J. said.
Chances are, there could be one or two more head-to-head duels of Nola vs. Nola in the best-of-seven series.