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On night where masterful Ranger Suarez needs little, Phillies offense obliges

PHILADELPHIA — A year ago, through a torturous opening trip and abundant offensive frustrations, Rob Thomson preached the gospel that his Phillies would eventually hit.

By August, the sun would shine, the Phillies would slug and the homers would add up to the third-most ever clubbed in a month in baseball history.

It’s with that surety that Thomson offers the same defense of his offense now.

His pitchers, like a masterful Ranger Suarez Tuesday night, haven’t required much backing, as two homers was more than enough for a 5-0 shutout of the hapless Rockies. It bodes well that even as the bats belatedly warm, the wins continue to accumulate for the Phillies.

Perhaps the difference is from last year to this is that, for all the offensive struggles in 2024, the Phillies stand at 10-8, with five more home games this week against teams with a combined six wins to pad that line.

The bats showed signs of breaking out Tuesday. J.T. Realmuto clubbed a two-run homer in the first inning. Trea Turner and Bryce Harper hit consecutive doubles to plate a run in the sixth, then Harper further shook his recent frustration with a 381-foot home run to left in the eighth to make it 5-0.

“He’s been hitting the ball hard a couple of times a night; he just hasn’t had anything to show for it,” Thomson said. “Tonight he did.”

The Phillies didn’t need much thanks to Suarez. He dazzled, allowing seven hits, all singles and only two off the bat at more than 100 miles per hour. He struck out seven. He walked one, lowering his base-on-balls total to four in 26 innings.

He induced 12 groundball outs, including the comebacker by Nolan Jones that ended it on pitch No. 112.

“I thought Ranger threw the ball great,” Harper said, before calling him “the best third starter in the game” in his opinion. “He just goes out there and pounds the zone. I thought he was ahead all night, just really, really good all night long. I thought the defense played well, also. The offense did enough to win.”

Suarez got help from his defense, including a pair of his own sensational stabs on the mound. Brandon Marsh played a single by Elehuris Montero perfectly off the wall in left to hose him at second to end the seventh. Alec Bohm made a diving stop at third to retire Michael Toglia in the eighth. When Ryan McMahon’s nubber to short threatened to put runners on the corners in the sixth, Harper sprinted across the diamond to get Alan Trejo in a pickle, Bohm applying the tag for the third out.

Suarez stood at 44 pitches after four innings and 89 after eight. He would’ve come back for the ninth even had Harper not turned a 3-0 lead into 5-0, but Jones was to be his last batter, Thomson said.

He surpasses his career-high for pitches in a game, at 110 on June 29, 2022. It’s Suarez’s second career shutout, the first on Sept. 25, 2021 vs. Pittsburgh. It’s the first shutout in the National League this year.

Even if Tuesday was an extreme, pitching has been there consistently this season. The offense – which ranked 16th in the majors in homers, 25th in runs, 24th in slugging and 21st in batting average entering Tuesday – hadn’t.

So perhaps Harper’s credo about what his team-leading fourth home run meant for him applied more broadly.

“Just get me to the box, that’s all,” he said. “Just trying to get there, understand each day is a new slate. We’ve got a long season. Just try to go out there, and get to the bater’s box. It might not look pretty sometimes, but I feel good, work looks good. Just got to get there.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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