Phillies Game Story

Phillies throttle Marlins behind Suarez and a big night from the 7-8-9

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MIAMI — They're not 27-12 just because of the starting rotation, star-studded lineup or situational hitting, or because their gap in talent compared to most clubs most nights is enough to overcome imperfect performances.

The Phillies are 27-12 because the production has come from everywhere, carrying over from series to series, from city to city.

They went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position Friday, for example, yet won easily behind Ranger Suarez. The final was 8-2 but felt even more lopsided given the Marlins' lifeless offense and mistakes in the field.

The win was the Phils' 10th in their last 11 series openers. They've outscored their opponents 66-20 in those games.

The Phillies have won 12 of 14 and six of seven games since Trea Turner was shelved by a hamstring strain. They haven't faced a difficult schedule to this point, but they have handled their share of challenging starting pitchers the last two weeks in Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, Dylan Cease, Logan Webb, Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbott.

Friday night was a different story as the Phillies took advantage of left-hander Trevor Rogers, who has struggled with command three seasons in a row since finishing second to Jonathan India in the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year race.

"A lot of opposite-field hits which shows you guys are staying on the baseball and hitting the ball where it’s pitched," manager Rob Thomson said. "Good hitters hit the ball the opposite way. It eliminates a lot of chase because you’re seeing the ball longer, later. It eliminates groundball outs, easy outs, soft contact. It just shows you you’re a good hitter, in my opinion."

Mr. Miami, Nick Castellanos, hit a 400-foot solo home run to right-center field on the first pitch he saw in the top of the second to start the scoring. It was to the same spot as his game-tying, ninth-inning home run last week at Angel Stadium, and both times, he knew it off the bat.

As they've done for over a month, the Phils continued to tack on. Edmundo Sosa hustled for a one-out double and scored on a two-out RBI single up the middle by Johan Rojas, who also stole a base in the fifth, homered with two outs in the seventh and singled to begin the ninth. The Phillies have 80 RBI with two outs this season, seven more than any team in the majors and 10 more than any team in the National League. Those are back-breakers, particularly when they come from the bottom of the order.

The 6-7-8-9 hitters kept it up in the fourth inning to chase Rogers. Whit Merrifield reached on an error to begin the frame, Sosa walked and eight-hole hitter Cristian Pache doubled in Merrifield. Sosa and Pache scored when the lineup turned over and Kyle Schwarber singled.

Pache keyed another rally in the fifth when he singled with one out to set the Phillies up to score on third baseman Jake Burger's second error of the game.

Pache was starting for just the second time since April 24. The Phillies are set to face lefties all weekend with Jesus Luzardo slated to return from the injured list Saturday and Braxton Garrett going on Sunday. They'll see another Monday in New York in Sean Manaea.

As such, Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh had the night off Friday. Merrifield played second and Pache played left field. It doesn't mean Stott and Marsh will sit for three or four of these games, but Thomson identified the series opener as a spot for Pache to start and the second-year Phillie made his manager look smart.

Pache's best series as a Phillie came at this same park last July when he hit a go-ahead two-run homer off the bench in the ninth inning, doubled in a run the next day and singled in the finale. Just after that series, he was placed on the injured list because of irritation in his right elbow caused by a screw that had been inserted years earlier. That situation opened the door for Rojas' first big-league call-up and Pache has been trying to find his way into the lineup ever since.

Suarez had yet another zero-stress night, blanking the Marlins over seven innings to improve to 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He's faced the minimum three batters in 28 of his 54 innings this season, allowing just 31 hits and walking eight batters while striking out 55.

He had the full arsenal working again Friday, particularly a two-seamer that bore in on righties.

"It keeps those right-handers off of him," Thomson said. "If they want to go swing at it, it’s gonna be a foul ball and it might go off their front foot. He’s really phenomenal right now. 

"I think this is the best run he’s been on, no doubt about it. He’s really been focused and locked in, very consistent."

The Phillies won for the 11th consecutive time behind Suarez dating back to last September. He didn't put more than one man on base in any inning, and as the Phillies piled up long half-innings, his first five didn't last much longer than a commercial break.

"He just works so quick and every single one of his deliveries on every pitch looks exactly the same," Castellanos said. "That gives hitters a real hard time because they really don’t know what’s coming at them until it’s halfway to home plate. 

"It tells me that he’s deceptive. It tells me that hitters can’t really look for one thing in one spot. The ball is just on you before you have a chance to make a decision. And a lot of the called strike threes, they’re worried about chasing. They don’t want to swing at that curveball in the dirt and all the sudden, here’s a two-seamer inside. Called strike three."

Taijuan Walker looks to keep the good vibes rolling on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. As his two starts have demonstrated, he doesn't need to be perfect to put this red-hot team in position to win. He's allowed nine runs in 12⅔ innings but the Phillies have won both games. Zack Wheeler goes on Sunday, giving the Phillies a great chance to take at least two of three again.

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