With the team desperately in need of some solid pitching, Ranger Suarez looked as good as he has all year long. He retired the first 11 batters he saw in this game, but looked early on to have his good stuff going. He needed it, too, as his hitters were unable to get anything going against Pirates starter Mitch Keller.
The struggles started in the first inning when they loaded the bases against Keller thanks to a walk to Kyle Schwarber, a single by Rhys Hoskins and a one out walk to J.T. Realmuto. Too bad Nick Castellanos followed Realmuto in the lineup as he feebly got called out on strikes. When Darick Hall also struck out to follow up Castellanos, it began to feel like one of those nights again where the offense just couldn’t get anything going against a pitcher who has struggled this season. Thankfully, Suarez just kept cruising right along, recording out after out and rarely looking rustled on the mound.
In the third, the team had another scoring chance when Schwarber doubled to begin things, but he was erased on the next batter when Hoskins grounded into an unusual 5-4-6 fielder’s choice thanks to the deke by Ke’Bryan Hayes. Poor baserunning by Schwarber, but it’s true what they say: you really do see something new every baseball game. Realmuto would single with two outs to put a man in scoring position, but once again Castellanos came up small by grounding into a force out to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Phillies finally got on the board when Realmuto homered to the opposite field, a solo shot that gave them a 1-0 lead.
Suarez made it hold up during his outing before he handed it over to the bullpen, Jose Alvarado the first one up for the team. Alvarado made only one mistake to Cal Mitchell and Mitchell made him pay.
With the game tied at one a piece, it came down to which bullpen would be the first to make a mistake to end the game. Through the regulation nine innings, neither one did and it went to extra innings like the night before.
In the tenth, it started with Didi Gregorius on second as the zombie runner and Matt Vierling at the plate. Vierling grounded to first baseman Michael Chavis, who felt brave enough to try and get Gregorius at third base. It didn’t end well.
Unable to tack on another run in the inning, the Phillies sent Corey Knebel back to the mound in the tenth after he barely broke a sweat in the ninth inning. Oneil Cruz was the zombie runner on second base for Pittsburgh and Bligh Madris at the plate.
Now, last night, Cruz has a crucial baserunning blunder that cost the Pirates an extra out when they were beginning to build momentum in the game. Tonight, Cruz did it again, getting picked off at second base on the daylight play, an inexcusable mistake that sucked all the air out of the team and made for easy pickins’ for Knebel, who retired Madris and the next batter with relative ease to secure the Phillies’ fourth straight victory and fifth in six games.
They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow with Aaron Nola on the mound.