Most of us probably figured that the Phillies were due to lose tonight. That magical homestand against the Angels was a ton of fun, but surely they were going to come crashing down to earth sooner or later. After all, the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place and the Halos were in the midst of a no-good, very bad 12-game skid, and just because Joe Girardi was fired does not mean that the roster suddenly has reflexes. The holes are still here. They couldn’t pull this off again.
Somehow, some way, the Fightin’s pulled off another improbable victory against Milwaukee. They were helped along by an impeccable pitching performance from Ranger Suarez. Ranger has had somewhat of a rough go of it this season, sporting an ERA and FIP both in the 4’s. But tonight, Ranger delivered in a big way.
Ranger Suarez's line: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 92 pitches (62 strikes). Much more efficient tonight. No run support for the effort, though.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 8, 2022
Seven innings, six strikeouts, no walks, less than 100 pitches. You can’t ask for more from your fifth starter. It was a promising flash of the brilliance he displayed as a reliever in 2021, and hopefully portends good things to come. Connor Brogdon also did well: his scoreless 8th inning neutralized the top of the Brewers order and kept the Phillies’ chances alive.
But as is so often the case with brilliant pitching, the offense didn’t show up on time. Despite notching 7 hits in 8 innings, the Phillies could only produce one lowly run when a Bryce Harper sac fly scored Mickey Moniak. The Brewers didn’t do much more, but they were able to manufacture two runs on the speedy feet of Christian Yelich. Coming into the 9th, that looked like it would be all they needed. The dominant Josh Hader was in search of extending his consecutive saves streak from July 2021, and the odds were good that he would do it. Alec Bohm thought otherwise.
Bohm drove a high Hader heater into deep left-center, ending his incredible saves streak and tying the game. Two batters later, Matt Vierling would hit another solo home run for the Phillies to take the lead. Corey Knebel did his very best to cough it back up by walking the bases loaded, but successfully converted the save on a Pablo Reyes strikeout.
The past few games have been wild, but should not obscure this team’s continuing issues. Look no further than Kardiac Knebel needing 32 pitches to lock down the win, raising questions about his closer status when there’s a shiny new Seranthony Dominguez right there on the shelf. And the Phillies’ offense remains mired in a boom-or-bust cycle. This would have been a different story if not for the young guns’ miraculous homers, which continue to fuel narratives about Girardi’s respect (or lack thereof) inside the clubhouse.
But those home runs really happened. The Phillies are 4-0 in the Rob Thomson era and improve to 26-29 on the season. They are, amazingly and suddenly, within striking distance of a winning record. The fever is going to break eventually, but it’s pretty good while it lasts. After all, it’s not every day we get to see the Red Ranger take on the Yellow Ranger and win.