Phillies fail to secure the sweep, fall to Padres, 5-2

San Diego Padres’ Jackson Merrill rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ranger Suarez during the second inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Temperatures rose as high as 92 degrees at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday afternoon. The question on fans’ minds – would the Phillies or Padres rise to the occasion to try and break the heat with a victory celebration in the series finale?

San Diego avoided being swept by Philadelphia for the second time this year and took the final regular season game between these teams by a score of 5-2. Let’s see how we got there

Starting pitchers dueled

Philadelphia Phillies’ Ranger Suarez pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Ranger Suárez (10-1, 1.75 ERA) continued his season-long hot streak, going six strong innings and allowing just one run – a home run to Padres rookie Jackson Merrill. Left-handed batters were hitting .161 against the Phillies lefty coming into the game, but the three LHB in San Diego’s lineup this afternoon combined to go 3-for-7 against Ranger, including that homer.

Overall, Suárez was his normal self – a quality start with six scattered hits and no walks. He also struck out four Padres hitters. Philadelphia’s bullpen surrendered the other four runs, three of which were unearned – but we will get to that shortly. For how well the bullpen has performed, this was a rare off-night that saw a lot of traffic on the base paths against the pen in their three innings of work.

Suárez was also in a unique position today, as it was the first time his wife and children got the opportunity to see him pitch in the major leagues. He said after the game that it was a different feeling, but the same focus both in his preparation and during the game.

Matt Waldron (5-6, 3.46 ERA) was opposite Ranger, and he was stellar against the high-powered Philly offense. Waldron’s secret weapon is a lost art in baseball – the knuckleball. Phillies Manager Rob Thomson said after the game, “He kept us off balance. It was good; there’s some depth to it. You don’t see them very often.” Waldron threw the pitch nearly 50% of the time. and he had it working and dancing all night. Even more impressive, Waldron did something no other pitcher has done against the Phillies this season:

Waldron finished with seven innings pitched, allowing just five hits – one of which was an HR to Bryce Harper – and two walks while striking out six Philly hitters on a career-high 104 pitches. The crafty righty’s relief basically shut down the Phillies as well. The Padres ‘pen struck out four hitters and surrendered just one run on one hit – another long ball off the bat of Bryce Harper. San Diego’s pitching prevailed and beat the heat to avoid a 10th straight loss on the road.

Defense was the difference

Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Brandon Marsh catches a fly out by San Diego Padres’ Luis Arraez during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Defense was on display early for Philadelphia, and with the duel happening on the mound it felt like solid defense might win you the game. Brandon Marsh and Nick Castellanos both flashed the leather in the first inning:

Castellanos has basically mastered the coming-straight-in-and-sliding catch, and Marsh being back in center field paid dividends early. Trea Turner had the day off today, so Edmundo Sosa was back at shortstop, and he made a few big plays. Whether it was charging on a slow-roller in the third or snagging a liner and doubling up a man on first – he reminded everyone what he does with the glove. Bryson Stott made extra effort on some balls that didn’t even result in outs but still flashed the leather.

However, later in the game the defense sort of cost the Phillies. Alec Bohm made a mistake on a ground ball in the eighth frame after the base runners running to third set a sort of visual screen on Alec. As a result, he lost track of the ball, which went off his body and into shallow left field. Sosa was there to keep the bases loaded instead of a run-scoring, but that wouldn’t last long. It was Bohm’s 11th error on the season.

Brandon Marsh, who started the game with an electric play, came up short in his attempt to make another on what would have been the third out of inning No. 8. He slid feet first to try and catch a low, soft liner, but it snuck underneath his glove for a bases-clearing triple that extended the lead to 5-to-1 at the time. Despite Harper’s second home run at the bottom of the frame, the damage was done, and what kept the game close early for Philly would be their downfall late.

Up Next

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber celebrates after a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning in Game 2 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Phillies have an off day tomorrow before welcoming the Arizona Diamondbacks to town this weekend. This will be the first time they play each other since last year’s NLCS. Philadelphia still has the best record in the National League, and second best in the majors. They leads their division by seven games.