Tonight was the first game of an important division series against a team they’ve routinely struggled against.
Not only is it important because of how good the Miami Marlins have been, the Phillies were only 2.5 games back from the top wild card team in the sport. So, it’s not impossible that these two teams could meet in a three-game playoff series in October.
The action got intense in the second inning. Jean Segura punched a two-strike sinker past Trea Turner for a one-out single. On the very next pitch, Joey Wendle pulled a cutter down the right-field line to put runners on second and third.
Putting the ball in play continued to work, Jacob Stallings hit a fastball right back up the middle for an infield single, 1-0 Marlins. Turner made a terrific stop but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove.
On the very next pitch, Dane Myers hit one right back to Wheeler, who quickly went to second. However, Myers beat the throw to first, avoiding an inning-ending double play, 2-0.
The Marlins came into this game ranked 9th best in strikeout rate at 21.5% and it showed through two.
Zack Wheeler consistently got them to two-strike counts and even eventually got a few early but Miami kept working at-bats, forcing 48 pitches through two innings.
Sandy Alcantara on the other hand was quick through the first three. He ran into trouble but was quick to figure out problems.
Whether it’s when he picked off Turner, forced an Alec Bohm double play, or how he saved his teammate in center by getting Kyle Schwarber and Turner on six combined pitches, Alcantara had an answer fast.
Wheeler’s troubles kept going in the fourth. Garrett Cooper has had a tough season but took a four-seam fastball the opposite way to right to make it 3-0.
The Wheels on the (coop) bus go round and round pic.twitter.com/4NQdcPqa4n— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 7, 2023
It took the Phillies until the sixth inning to score with a JT Realmuto home run off a changeup that looked more like a slow fastball.
Wheeler was done after six innings. He battled a stingy Marlins lineup and settled down after the Cooper homerun. Seven hits, seven strikeouts, and three runs on 101 pitches.
Jeff Hoffman deserves a little credit for retiring six batters in the next two innings when the Phillies likely had three different relievers available. He’s been a great find for this team and probably would’ve been Joe Girardi’s closer in 2020 or 21.
Alcantara was done in the seventh. After a Brandon Marsh single with two outs, manager Skip Schumaker wanted his ace to end on a good note.
With 95 pitches, he picked left-hander Tanner Scott to face Kyle Schwarber, the tying run at the plate. Scott struck him out on a nasty slider to end the threat.
Schumaker trusted his high-leverage lefty to come right back out for the eighth. Scott worked a scoreless inning including a strikeout on a nasty back-foot slider to Nick Castellanos.
For anyone who likes the immaculate grid, remember him for any Cardinals, Dodgers, are Reds questions.
The Marlins went to their closer, AJ Puk for the ninth. The Phillies put together a threat with a leadoff single from Realmuto. After a past ball from Stallings, Alec Bohm ripped a two-strike double down the left-field line to make it a one-run game.
Thomson countered the lefty Puk with two right-handers for Darick Hall and Marsh. After Josh Harrison struck out, it was up to Cristian Pache with two outs in the ninth.
Pache hasn’t seen live pitching since July 1 with the number of right-handers the Phillies have faced. It’s about as hard of a task as one can be for a ballplayer and Pache was up for it.
One of the relievers I thought would be unavailable was Craig Kimbrel. However, once Pache gave them the lead, they weren’t making the same closer mistake a last year.
Jean Segura began the inning with a leadoff single but Joey Wendle immediately grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. To add insult to injury, he fell down getting out of the box. Gurriel hit for Stallings in the ninth and popped out to Bohm to give Kimbrel an easy four-pitch save.
That’s the thirteenth straight road win for the Phillies, tying their record in 1976.
Ranger Suárez gets the ball tomorrow against Braxton Garrett at 4:10 tomorrow as the Phillies look for their fourteenth straight road win.