'Ride the high': Surging Marsh, Suárez lift Phils

Center fielder homers twice to back left-hander's eight-strikeout, one-run gem

June 28th, 2023

CHICAGO -- and might be two of the goofiest, most upbeat personalities in the Phillies’ tight-knit clubhouse.

They seem perpetually positive, even when times are tough. But things have been really, really good lately. Suárez allowed one run across 7 1/3 innings in Tuesday night’s 5-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in his past six starts. Marsh tallied the second multihomer game of his career. He is batting .600 (12-for-20) with three doubles, two home runs and a 1.686 OPS in his past six games.

“When I struggle, Kyle [Schwarber] hits a homer,” Marsh said. “Everyone else hits a homer. It’s easy to cheer those guys on because they want the best for me. When things aren’t going well, I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can.”

Suárez stood perfectly still with a devilish grin on his face as reporters approached him in front of his locker after the game. “See you next month!” he said when the interview ended. Minutes earlier, Marsh begged for mercy, jumping up and down and faking a punch as Bryson Stott and Kody Clemens poured water on him and tried to stuff bottles down his jersey during his postgame TV interview.

Marsh has been dousing teammates all season.

“I’m about as weird as it gets to where it’s still OK,” Marsh said this spring, laughing.

Weird is good, and good is good.

Suárez has been fantastic for the past month because he has been getting ahead in the count and locating every pitch in his arsenal. He had a 9.82 ERA after his first three starts as he worked his way back from a left elbow injury in the spring.

“I think before there was a lot of just rip it and hope it’s where we want it to be,” Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs said. “But I feel like we’re really cutting guys up with mixing in and out with the sinker, the cutter, the curveball. [Suárez] has a really good feel for where it’s going. You can watch J.T. [Realmuto] and I set up inside, outside, up, down, and he’s throwing it in that vicinity and making some really good pitches.”

“He was really good on the edges,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He was down, backdooring some cutters, some stuff underneath.”

Suárez gave up only a pair of two-out hits through seven innings before he allowed two more in the eighth. The Phillies had a 5-0 lead at that point. They scored runs on RBI singles in the first and the fifth, and Marsh hit a solo homer in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth.

Marsh batted .317 with four home runs, 16 RBIs, 16 walks, 35 strikeouts and a 1.000 OPS in 121 plate appearances through May 9. He hit the ball so well and got on base so often that Phillies manager Rob Thomson started to field questions about the 25-year-old’s spot in the lineup.

But Marsh batted .186 with one home run, 11 RBIs, 12 walks, 48 strikeouts and a .500 OPS in 118 plate appearances from May 10 through June 18. He said he felt he started chasing too many pitches outside the zone again and being too passive when he got pitches to hit. It got to the point that Thomson discussed a platoon in center field between Marsh and Cristian Pache, who rejoined the team June 16 in Oakland.

But after going 0-for-4 against the A’s on June 18, Marsh has started six consecutive games against right-handed starters. He looks like the player that started the season hitting the cover off the ball.

“It’s just the course of the season,” Marsh said. “Everyone is going to go through some good patches and rough patches. The key is just try to ride the high as long as you can.”

The same is true for Suárez.

“My first couple outings were a little rough,” Suárez said through the team’s interpreter. “I didn’t really have Spring Training. I don’t want to use that as an excuse, though. The key for me is turning the page quickly and focusing on the next start. That’s really the only way to go about it for me.”