Phillies slug their way to 5-1 victory over Pirates

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Matt Strahm throws during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Phillies returned home to Philadelphia on Thursday night after a successful road trip where they went 4-2 to even their record out through the first 12 games of the season. They started their 10 game home stand, and 4 game weekend set against the Pirates with a bang – or a few bangs – as they took to the long ball to handle Pittsburgh. They are now over .500 for the first time in 2024. Let’s look at how they got there.

The Phillies Offense

For the depth and power this lineup was supposed to have, there had been a clear lack of power to start the season – especially as of late, despite their success. Reporter Howard Eskin asked Rob Thomson about this prior to Thursday’s game, noting that Phillies hitters had 16 straight singles since their last extra base hit coming into the day. Thomson pre-game, and the club on ‘X’ during the game, had fun with at Eskin’s expense as the game played out:

Pre-game discussion
Phillies on ‘X’ after the team’s third HR of the game

On a day where the giveaway at the ballpark was a reminder of Alec Bohm’s recovery from his most infamous moment, he of course opened the scoring with a solo home run to center field in the 4th inning. Despite that, Pirates starting pitcher Jared Jones looked strong through 6. Pittsburgh decided to keep the rookie in to start the 7th inning due to a low pitch count (only 72 when the inning started), but the Phillies finally figured him out. A lead-off single from J.T. Realmuto set the table for what looked like a RBI double from Brandon Marsh, but an umpire review showed the ball cleared the fence and the Phils took a 3-0 lead.

A pitching change did not slow things down, as Nick Casellanos made his way to 2nd base on a fielding error, and Bryson Stott made them pay with his first homer of the season to extend the lead to 5.

Not all was perfect – the Phillies did strike out 10 times with no walks, but there were plenty of hard-hit balls, and 3 of the team’s 7 hits left the yard. Fans will hope this is a sign of things to come.

Phillies ranger suarez
Philadelphia Phillies’ Ranger Suarez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Pitching continues to be a strength

Ranger Suárez continued a strong start to the season Thursday night. Not just for himself, but for the entire Phillies starting pitching staff. Suarez went 6 strong innings, allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8 on 97 pitches. Ranger had 8 counts start 0-2, and had all of his pitches working. Reuben Amaro Jr. noted during a studio break that his swing-and-miss rate on his 4-seam fastball was nearly 56%. The left hander lowered his season ERA to 2.65, and more impressively he brought down the rotation ERA as well:

Outside of Aaron Nola‘s first start of the season against Atlanta, a Philadelphia starter has not allowed more than 3 runs in a game this season. Suarez set the table for the bullpen to come in and shut the door. Yunior Marte came in after the 7th inning stretch and struck out the side, allowing 1 hit in his 1 inning of work. He now has 7 K’s through 6.2 IP without allowing a run to start the season.

Nick Nelson came in for some clean up work and allowed the rest of the pen to get some rest, as he worked the final two innings to secure the victory. It is early and Nelson did allow a run in the 9th, but his length allowed him to lower his season ERA by over a run. He struck another 3 Pirates hitters himself, before inducing a pop-up in foul territory that Bohm made an impressive sliding catch on to end the game and ring the bell.

Up next

Tomorrow’s game at Citizens Bank Park is scheduled for a 6:40 PM start, and there is a post-game concert from Philly legend DJ Jazzy Jeff. It will also be the debut of the Phillies new City Connect jerseys. Cristopher Sánchez will toe the rubber for Philadelphia, battling against former Phillie Bailey Falter.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)