Phillies Topped the Defending World Champion Rangers

One streak continued, and another ended. However, it was all good news for the Philadelphia Phillies as they topped the defending world champion Texas Rangers 5-2 at Citizens Bank Park in the first of a three-game series. The Phils won for the 27th time in 33 games, which marks the first time since at least 1901 that they’ve scored 27 victories in a 33-game span. Overall, at 35-14, they join the 1976 club with the best record after 49 games in team history.

Ranger Danger

Phillies’ starting pitcher, Ranger Suárez, was excellent for seven innings and won his 11th consecutive game, going back to last season. Only he and Steve Carlton have ten-plus game-winning streaks among the Phillies’ left-handed pitchers. Lefty won 15 in a row in 1972 on his way to 27 wins. Suárez struck out ten batters, which is a season-high and matches his career high, while holding the struggling Rangers to one run on five hits and a pair of walks. In doing so, he lowered his ERA to 1.36 and now has the third-lowest ERA through the first ten starts of the season since 1912, when ERA became an official stat. Only Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander was better in his first ten starts, with 1.31 in 1915 and 1.24 in 1916.

“Get the hitters off balance,” said Suárez, through Phillies’ interpreter Diego D’Aniello, when asked the key to his success. “I work on that in the days before my outings and I think it has proven to give us great results.”

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A Good Streak to End

The win ended a 12-game, 10-year losing streak to the Rangers. The last time the Phils beat Texas was March 31, 2014, the opening day of the season. Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam that day in the 14-10 win.

Offensively, the Phils got another good night from Bryce Harper, who was two-for-three with a home run, a double, and two runs scored. On the current home stand, he’s 10-for-25, with half of those hits going for extra bases (three doubles and a pair of homers).

“I just [have to] continue to swing at strikes,” said Harper. “I find value in that, so if I can continue to do that, I’ll be right where I want to be.”

Suárez fanned six of the first 12 batters he faced, but in the third inning, Derek Hill singled, stole second, and came in on Marcus Semien’s double to left.

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A Quick Response

The Phils got it right back. Brandon Marsh walked, went to second on a groundout, and then scored when Kyle Schwarber lined a single to right.

The next inning, Harper led off with a double, which would become the first of two runs Alec Bohm drove in on the night. This allowed him to take the Major League lead in RBI with 44.

“I love watching him hit,” Harper said about Bohm. “He’s got such a simple swing. I always tell him, if I teach my son how to hit, it’s going to be like that. He’s a big man, but he’s got a little man’s swing. It’s very easy, he can hit to all fields. He’s going to hit for power and average.”

Bryce, Bryce Baby

In his next plate appearance, Harper blasted a belt-high fastball into the batter’s eye in straightaway centerfield. That would be all the runs the Phillies would need despite an eighth-inning home run by Corey Seager that made it 3-2.

The Phils tacked on a pair of runs in their half of the eighth on singles by Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto (who has an 11-game hit streak), a double by Bohm, and a sacrifice fly by Bryson Stott.

After allowing two men to reach with one out, Jose Alvarado struck out the final two Rangers for the save.

Rock Hoffman
Rock Hoffman

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).

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