The National League's hottest pitcher and hitter key another Phillies win

The National League’s hottest pitcher and hitter key another Phillies win originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

SAN DIEGO — Nothing has changed for Ranger Suarez as his scoreless innings streak turned into one of the most discussed elements of the Phillies’ hot start.

No increase in adrenaline, no gripping the ball tighter or feeling extra pressure.

The calm and collected lefty just continues to work quickly, work ahead in counts, command five different pitches and field his position like there’s a magnet in his glove.

Knowing Saturday that he could move into second place all-time on the Phillies’ consecutive scoreless innings list with another shutout, Suarez nearly got there, falling four outs shy. He shut the Rockies out 11 nights ago and was just as dominant in Saturday’s 5-1 win.

Was he conscious of how high the total had reached?

“I don’t know, nor do I know if he cares,” manager Rob Thomson said. “He’s just having fun playing baseball right now.”

San Diego had only three hits off Suarez, an infield single in the first inning, a one-out single in the third by a batter who was promptly picked off, and Eguy Rosario’s two-out solo home run in the eighth.

Suarez’ streak ended at 32⅔ scoreless innings. He’s 5-0 with a 1.32 ERA. He’s obviously not going to finish with an ERA in the low-1.00s, but something in the 2.00s is looking more and more realistic by the week and would represent immense value from a “No. 3” starter.

He also has a 2.48 ERA on the road since 2021, the very best in all of baseball among the 61 pitchers with as many innings.

“If I did keep it going, then OK, but that wasn’t my focus,” Suarez said through team interpreter Diego D’Aniello. “My focus was pitching good innings and helping the team win. I’m happy that we’ve got this streak going, this feat going. If it did happen, then perfect, I would have been extremely excited for it, but my mentality right now is to help the team win and we did just that.”

If Suarez is the Phillies’ hottest player, Alec Bohm isn’t far behind. His two-run homer in the first inning extended an 11-game hitting streak during which Bohm has 11 extra-base hits and 18 RBI.

In his third at-bat, Bohm drove in two more runs with a two-out, bases-loaded, line-drive single to right field. He might be your National League Player of the Week.

“That’s what Bohmer does,” Thomson said, “he pulls the breaking ball and he hits the fastball the other way.”

Driving in four runs off of Dylan Cease, who had held right-handed hitters to 1-for-52 this season entering the night, was no small accomplishment.

“Man, going into it, you knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Bohm said. “He has some of the best stuff in the league so there’s not really much of a plan to go up there with against a guy like that. You just get in the box and compete. I just caught one out front and got it.”

Later, Bohm’s two-run single capped a two-out, small-ball rally by the Phillies, the kind that fires up an entire dugout. With two away and nobody on, Whit Merrifield legged out an infield single which started a rally of five straight batters reaching. Merrifield also had to hustle to beat out a force play at third on a Trea Turner infield single. Bryce Harper followed with a bases-loaded walk and Bohm did his thing once again with runners in scoring position.

“On the bases, on defense, that’s huge for him,” Thomson said of Merrifield. “That’s who he is, he’s a baseball player. When I call a guy a baseball player, that’s a real compliment. He’s solid, he’s great in the clubhouse, he fits right in. You trust a guy like that.”

“We’re the type of offense that no matter where we’re at in the lineup — two outs, one out, nobody out — we can get something going,” Bohm added. “Up and down the lineup, we can manufacture runs in different ways.”

The inning was an example of the many different ways to win the Phillies have found this month. Most nights, it’s been the rotation, which has a ridiculous 1.21 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over the last 12 games. These last two weeks, the offense has come alive.

“Hats off to the starters,” Bohm said. “They’ve really set the tone for us, whether we’re scoring two runs or seven runs. They’ve given us a chance every night and without them, a streak like this isn’t really possible.”

The Phillies’ defense has also been impactful on a near-nightly basis. It helped Aaron Nola in four different innings Friday, and on Saturday, Merrifield made a sliding catch in left field to rob Ha-Seong Kim and Nick Castellanos slammed into the wall in right to cost Jose Azocar extra bases. Castellanos struck out in his first three at-bats but didn’t take the frustration with him into the field. Any hesitation or lack of concentration on the play and it would have been at least a double.

The Phils are 18-10 and look like one of the best teams in baseball. They lost their first two series of the season but haven’t dropped one since.

They’ve already swept the Rockies and White Sox and look for their third of the month on Sunday afternoon in Taijuan Walker’s season debut.

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