Phillies Bullpen Steps Up in Victory Against the Red Sox

Suarez Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 22: Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ranger Suarez (55) delivers during the Major League Baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies on May 22, 2021 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

On the day where the Phillies needed them the most, the Phillies’ bullpen came through as Philadelphia defeated the Red Sox 5-4 on Sunday, taking the series victory. Following the win, the Phillies stand at 44-44 on the season and end their road trip with a 5-2 record against the Cubs and Red Sox.

Pre-Game Shake-Up

When Alec Bohm was removed from Saturday night’s game and placed on the COVID-19 Injured List, manager Joe Girardi knew there was a potential reckoning coming.

The Phillies are one of seven teams amongst Major League Baseball that have not reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold set out by the MLB. Aaron Nola, Bailey Falter, and Connor Brogdon are all assumed to be among the nonvaccinated Phillies. Nola was supposed to start Sunday’s game against the Red Sox until he was placed on COVID-19 protocols Sunday morning.

“We pretty much knew after yesterday’s game that this was the likely scenario”

Manager Joe Girardi Following Sunday’s Victory

Luckily, the Phillies were prepared as they shipped Nick Maton, Damon Jones, Mauricio Llovera, and Cristopher Sanchez up to Boston in preparation for the news. Sanchez, who was expected to start for Lehigh Valley on Sunday, found himself bearing a heavy load in Fenway Park instead.

How It Happened

Brandon Kintzler pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, serving as the Phillies’ last-minute opener against the Red Sox. Kintzler came back out to start the bottom of the second but was taken out following a solo home run from Xander Bogaerts.

Cristopher Sanchez then entered the game for the Phillies. Sanchez, who arrived at Fenway at 9:00 A.M. Sunday morning, found himself throwing three innings for the Phillies, allowing one run on four hits while striking out two.

The Phillies would, however, earn a lead for Sanchez shortly into his outing. After a Ronald Torreyes single and a hard-fought full-count walk for Travis Jankowski in the top of the third, the Phillies appeared to be getting to former Phillies’ starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. With two outs, J.T. Realmuto scored them both on a single into right field. Torreyes scored on the single to give Realmuto the RBI, though Jankowski scored following a throwing error by right fielder Hunter Renfroe.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, Rhys Hoskins hit a double past left fielder Alex Verdugo to keep the inning alive. Brad Miller then walked, bringing up Torreyes. Torreyes then hit one over the Green Monster for a three-run home run, giving the Phillies the 5-1 lead. Pivetta finished the inning before the Red Sox replaced him. He ended the day throwing four innings, allowing five runs on four hits.

Onto the Bullpen

Hector Neris then entered the game for the Phillies in the bottom of the fifth after Christian Arroyo hit a lead-off double-off Sanchez. Arroyo scored as Neris allowed one hit on the inning.

Jose Alvarado allowed two runs while recording only two outs in the bottom of the sixth for the Phillies. With the lead down to one run, Archie Bradley came in to pitch with a runner on second and two outs, getting a ground out to maintain the Phillies’ 5-4 lead.

Bradley pitched the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh before walking Bogaerts. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies went to this week’s closer: Ranger Suarez, who would look to pitch a seven-out save.

After recording the final out in the bottom of the seventh, Suarez faced some opposition in the bottom of the eighth. He allowed a leadoff single to Renfroe before striking out both Christian Vazquez and Bobby Dalbec. Following two full-count walks, however, from Christian Arroyo and Kike Hernandez, Suarez had the bases loaded for Alex Verdugo. Verdugo hit the first pitch, a 93 MPH sinker, on the ground to Jean Segura for the third out of the inning.

Facing the heat of the Red Sox’s order, Suarez returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth. The first batter, J.D. Martinez, worked his way to a full count before striking out looking on a sinker reaching 95 MPH. Suarez then got punched out a 2-2 sinker high in the zone for the second out.

Inside the Numbers

Big Day for Toe

Ronald Torreyes was the star of the show offensively for the Phillies on Sunday. “Toe” went 3-for-4 on the game with a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI. The utility infielder’s batting average reached its lowest point (.240) since April following the series in Chicago on Tuesday. After sitting out the series opener on Friday, Torreyes has gone 6-for-9 against the Red Sox raising his average to .276 heading into the All-Star Break.

Phillies’ Bullpen Shines Through

Ranger Suarez struck out four batters over the course of 2.1 innings for the Phillies, recording the seven-out save against the Red Sox. The save was the Phillies’ first seven-out save since Jared Eickhoff recorded one in 2019.

Suarez closed out what was the most crucial performance from the Phillies’ bullpen this season. After Aaron Nola (and company) found themselves on the COVID-19 Injured List, many already wrote a loss into the Phillies’ ledger for the day. Instead, the Phillies are entering the All-Star Break with a .500 record and sit only 3.5 games out of first place.

On the day, the Phillies’ bullpen allowed four runs on 11 hits across nine innings. Cristopher Sanchez pitched three innings allowing one run while Hector Neris and Archie Bradley threw one shutout inning apiece. The only real struggle of the day for the bullpen came in Jose Alvarado who allowed two runs to score on four hits in the bottom of the sixth.

Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire