Phillies News

Ranger Suárez continuing to show why he is the most overlooked pitcher in baseball

He might be the Phillies' No. 3 starter but Ranger Suárez is pitching like he's their No. 1, improving to MLB's-best 8-0 on the season.

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The Phillies were hoping for good things from their No. 3 starter this season. What they couldn’t have foreseen, what nobody could have predicted, was that at this still-so-very-early point of the season that lefthander Ranger Suárez would be being mentioned in All-Star, even Cy Young, conversations.

That’s why Bryce Harper came into the home dugout at Citizens Bank Park after the top of the fifth Wednesday night and exhorted his teammates, ‘Let’s get him a W.’

Time was of the essence because Suárez was coming out of the game, matching his shortest outing of the season. He hadn’t given up an earned run but was trailing because of some sloppy defense behind him. That had also helped bump his pitch count up to 83. The Phillies, hyperaware that he's doing something special, responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning enroute to an easy 10-5 win.

Suárez is 8-0. His earned run average is 1.37.

“All of our starting pitching has been great,” Harper said. “But 8-0 is pretty special, man. He never wavers. When you have starting pitching like that you’re going to win a lot of games. I’ve always said, pitching wins championships. And we have a really good chance with the guys that we have.

“Going into that fifth inning, we just wanted to get Ranger that win, right? You’re playing for that. You’re playing for your team. You’re playing for your guys.”

Suárez had to battle through the first three innings. Not because he lacked command or because cool, damp weather once again descended over Citizens Bank Park or even due to any particular challenge the Mets hitters were posing.

It was his own defense that was giving him a devil of a time.

Brandon Nimmo led off the top of the first with a routine fly to center. Which Johan Rojas, advertised as a future Gold Glove candidate, dropped for an error. Nimmo eventually scored an unearned run on a two-out double by third baseman Mark Vientos. It could have been worse, but third baseman Alec Bohm robbed Starling Marte with a diving catch of his line drive.

The Mets got their leadoff hitter on again in the second, and again it came on a play that probably should have been made. Centerfielder Harrison Bader hit a grounder to the left of shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who got to the ball in plenty of time but was unable to glove it cleanly. The official scorer ruled it a base hit, but the Mets were unable to advance the runner even though the Phillies were unable to complete a potential double play.

That came when the next batter, Jeff McNeil, hit a grounder to second baseman Bryson Stott. He flipped to Sosa for the force play, but the shortstop then juggled the ball allowing McNeil to reach safely.

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso started the third with a double to left, went to third on an off-line throw as leftfielder Cristian Pache tried to cut him down and scored on a wild pitch. That, too, ended up an unearned run.

Suárez, typically, shrugged it all off. “We all know it was a rainy night, so it was tough,” he said through interpreter Diego D’Aniello. “But I don’t think (the defensive lapses) were because of that. We all know things like this are going to happen from time to time. There are some balls we could have played differently, but errors are a part of the game.”

Manager Rob Thomson said that he’d hoped to limit Suárez’s pitches Wednesday night because he’d already logged 54 innings coming into his start.

“I feel fine,” the 28-year-old lefthander said. “I just want to be 100 percent healthy at the end of the season. This was not a great game for me. But the important thing is that we got the win and that I was able to keep the game close so we had a chance to win.”

NOTABLE: In addition to his error in the first inning, Johan Rojas was unable to hold onto what appeared to be a catchable line drive hit by Jeff McNeil in the eighth. “I just have to catch those balls. No excuses,” he said through Diego D’Aniello. “I’ll just keep working to be able to make those plays. I’m thankful for being here and the important thing is to give 100 percent every day.”. . .Mets LHP Jose Quintana (1-4, 5.44) will face RHP Taijuan Walker (3-0, 4.82) in the finale of the abbreviated series Thursday night at 6:40 p.m.

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