Final Score: Phillies 5, Nationals 2
Though they actually entered the day hitting .249 with runners in scoring position – not a disastrous mark – the Philadelphia Phillies have had some notable moments in 2021 where they’ve failed to deliver in situations that playoff-caliber teams typically do.
One game out of 162 doesn’t necessarily change that, but the Phillies went 3-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position Saturday, helping them overcome some early fielding miscues to defeat the Washington Nationals. Just hours after being activated from the injured list, Bryce Harper delivered with runners in scoring position, as did Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen.
With the win, the Phillies move to 27-30, with 16 of their victories having come at Citizens Bank Park. Vince Velasquez will get the ball for the Phillies Sunday, as they look to take a weekend series from their rivals.
- Odúbel Herrera led off the bottom of the first inning by hitting a ball deep to right field, one that looked like it might leave the yard. Instead, it died on the warning track, with Juan Soto putting it away.
- Ranger Suárez replaced Spencer Howard with one out in the third inning, inheriting runners on first and second base. Suárez induced a ground ball from Soto that seemingly should have gotten at least one out, but Jean Segura whiffed on it at second base, allowing the ball to go into the outfield and Trea Turner to score from second base. Segura was charged with an error, one of three that the Phillies had in the first three innings.
- Segura reached first base with one out in the home half of the fourth inning after Josh Bell made an error at first base on what should have been a pretty easy play. Instead, Segura made it to first base, and was followed by Bryce Harper, who was hit by a pitch on his left foot. Rhys Hoskins extended his hitting streak to 12 games – the most for any Phillie thus far in 2021 – by blooping a single into no-man’s-land between the shortstop and third baseman. The single brought Segura home.
- J.T. Realmuto was unable to follow up Hoskins, as he popped up in the infield. Fortunately for the Phillies, Andrew McCutchen, the next batter, would hit a 377-foot, three-run home run:
- In what essentially turned into a piggyback with Howard, Suárez was excellent, not allowing a hit over three frames. While Suárez did hit one batter he struck out three, including this paint to Soto:
- The Nationals had a good chance to cut into the Phillies lead in the top of the seventh as Trea Turner doubled, which was followed by a one-out walk of Josh Harrison by Sam Coonrod. Joe Girardi made a double switch, bringing in José Alvarado to face Soto and Travis Jankowski to play left field. Jankowski, a day after a crucial baserunning mistake, did hear some boos as he trotted out to left field. The move paid immediate dividends, though, as Alvarado induced and inning-ending double play.
- The Nationals did get to Alvarado quickly in the top of the eighth, however, with Bell leading off the inning by hitting just his 23rd career right-handed home run:
- Alvarado would then walk Kyle Schwarber, before allowing a single to Starlin Castro. Fortunately for the Phillies, he settled in from there. Alvarado got help from Herrera, who made a nice catch on a ball hit to center field by Alex Avila. After Victor Robles flew out to left, Alvarado struck out Phillies killer Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning, keeping the score at 4-2.
- In the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies added an insurance run. Herrera led off with a single into center, which Segura followed with a single of his own. With runners on the corners, Harper singled into center field against his former team, extending the Phillies lead to 5-2.
- With Héctor Neris on the paternity leave list, Girardi turned to Connor Brogdon to close out the game in the ninth. The 26-year-old set the Nationals down in order to finish off a win, with the help of a questionable game-ending strike three call:
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
- Joe Ross gave up four runs over six innings, but none of them were earned. He did allow McCutchen to hit a three-run home run, but that was just one of three hits he surrendered on the day.
- Spencer Howard was limited to 48 pitches Sunday, allowing just one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Still, there continues to be some discouraging signs for the former top prospect. Howard struggled to command his offspeed pitches, but that will happen sometimes. More concerning is that the 24-year-old threw 10 fastballs in the first inning, averaging 94.89 mph and reaching as high as 97.3. In the third inning, Howard again threw 10 fastballs, but averaged just 92.57 mph on his fastball, topping out at 93.6. He seem perplexed after the game as to why he continues to see such drastic dips in velocity.
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Ranger Suárez
Though he’s perhaps making a case for a chance to get a start, Suárez has been excellent out of the bullpen in 2021. As Phillies Nation‘s Jonny Heller noted, Suárez hasn’t allowed an earned run in 17 1/3 innings in 2021, and he’s only surrendered four hits.
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Sunday, June 6 vs. Nationals at Citizens Bank Park
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP
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