Fresh off a road trip where they won six of seven games, the Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park to take on the team with the best record in the National League – the Atlanta Braves. Both teams came in with six-game winning streaks. The Phillies had their chances to end the Braves’ run but fell short, 4-2.
Waste of Good Pitching
The defeat wasted another strong effort from starting pitcher Ranger Suárez. He allowed only one run on four hits and two walks while striking out seven in six innings of work. After surrendering 14 runs in his first four starts, Suárez has permitted just three runs over his last four starts, a span covering 26 innings for a 1.03 ERA.
The Braves countered with Spencer Strider. He allowed two runs on two hits while striking out nine in a start against the Phillies in Atlanta on May 28. The Braves took the game 11-4. This time, the Phils got to him to a degree. They had two on and two outs in the first inning. Brandon Marsh had a leadoff double in the third. Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and Nick Castellanos all failed to drive him in.
In the fourth, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto each singled but were wiped out on an unusual double play. Bryson Stott hit a soft liner up the middle, which froze Harper, but the ball was on the ground by the time it reached shortstop Orlando Arcia. He flipped the ball to Ozzie Albies at second to force Realmuto. Albies then fired it to Austin Riley, who tagged Harper as he was coming into third.
To The Action
The Phillies finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth with a single run. They had runners at first and second with one, but Michael Harris II ran down Turner’s deep fly to center, Castellanos singled to score Marsh, but Harper struck out to end the threat.
The lead was short-lived as Riley homered to the left, with one gone in the sixth. Jeff Hoffman replaced Suárez in the seventh. He permitted three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base, leading to two runs for Atlanta.
With one down in the eighth inning, Matt Olson crushed an Andrew Vasquez pitch to the seats in right to make it 4-1. In their half of the ninth, the Phils did just enough to keep most of the crowd of 37,746 to stay until the end. Stott doubled to lead off, and a fly out and ground out got him home. Next, Marsh got his third hit of the night which brought Schwarber to the plate. Raisel Iglesias struck him out to finish off the Phillies. Phillies had their chances to end the Braves’ run but fell short, 4-2.
“We had some chances,” said manager Rob Thomson after his team fell to 38-35. “[Strider] pitched well when he had to. He hunkered down with runners in scoring position…we just couldn’t come through.”
“Anytime you can put pressure on a guy, especially somebody that’s had our number, I thought we had opportunities to get runs, and it just didn’t happen for us,” said Harper. The Phillies’ first five batters in the lineup (Schwarber, Turner, Castellanos, Harper, and Realmuto) were a combined 2-for-38 against Strider in their careers. That group accounted for six of the team’s eight hits against Strider. Strider is now 6-0 with a 1.62 ERA in six career appearances against the Phils.
“To me,” said Thomson when talking about the seventh inning, which Hoffman started by issuing a base on balls to Arcia, “the leadoff walk is the deal because that gives them energy, some momentum. You’ve got to knock that guy down first.”
“I happy,” said Suárez, through Phillies interpreter Diego Ettedgui, when asked about his recent performances, “because that’s what I’ve been working for. Unfortunately, today, we didn’t get the results we wanted,”
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).