Phils grind through mistakes as Suárez stays perfect

May 16th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Not a whole lot went right for the Phillies in a chilly rain-soaked game at Citizens Bank Park against the Mets on Wednesday night.

Johan Rojas dropped a routine fly ball on the very first play of the game. Cristian Pache later made a throw to second from the left-field wall that ended up against the first-base railing. Nick Castellanos ran into an easy out at second base. J.T. Realmuto ran into another -- at home plate.

That was all behind National League Cy Young contender , who walked two batters (in the same inning), hit another and uncorked a wild pitch, all while lasting a season-low-tying five innings. Yet when he walked off the mound after the top of the fifth, the Phillies were trailing by only one run.

With Suárez’s unbeaten record hanging in the balance, delivered a message when he got back to the dugout.

“Let's get him a 'W,’” Harper said as soon as he reached the home dugout in the middle of the fifth.

And that’s exactly what the Phillies did.

Harper roped a two-run double to cap a four-run fifth inning en route to a 10-5 win over the Mets. Thanks to the decisive rally, Suárez improved to 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA -- the lowest mark by any Phillies pitcher through the first nine starts of a season since the National League began tracking earned runs in 1912.

“Obviously, we know what he's doing right now,” Harper said of Suárez. “So you just want to pick up your teammates and play the best baseball we can."

Along with the best ERA in franchise history through nine starts, Suárez has won eight consecutive starts after a no-decision to open the season. He’s 8-0 with a 1.00 ERA, 51 strikeouts and nine walks in those eight outings.

Suárez is just the seventh pitcher in AL/NL history to win eight straight starts within a single season while posting a 1.00 ERA or better, 50 strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks. The others: Clayton Kershaw (2014), Cliff Lee (2009), Johan Santana (2004), Roger Clemens (1990), Bob Gibson (1968) and Juan Marichal (1967).

“It was not a great night for me; it wasn't a great game for me,” said Suárez, who struck out three and allowed just the two unearned runs. “But the important thing is we got the win.”

That’s seemingly been a constant over the past month for the Phillies, who scrapped their way to a third straight win over the Mets while improving to 23-5 over their past 28 games. That’s tied for the best 28-game stretch in franchise history. The only other Phillies teams to go 23-5 at any point in a season were the 2010 and 1976 clubs – both eventual division champions.

“It was a little sloppy -- on the field and the play, too -- but we got it done,” manager Rob Thomson said. “You're going to have games like that, but our guys, they keep grinding. They keep fighting.”

That’s not to say the Phillies will ignore the mistakes.

Rojas, long after his game-opening error, had another ball glance off his glove for a run-scoring double in the eighth.

“I just have to catch those balls. There's no excuse from me,” Rojas said via an interpreter. “I'll just come here tomorrow to work on that and make those plays.”

But it wasn’t just Rojas.

In addition to Philadelphia’s two errors and aforementioned baserunning miscues, Edmundo Sosa lost track of the count on Kyle Schwarber’s bases-loaded walk in the fifth and had to be directed to the plate by third-base coach Dusty Wathan.

"We don't want to make those mistakes as a team, right?” Harper said. “We all knew that. So coming into that fifth inning, we knew we made some mistakes and gave them some runs. You can't make mistakes like that against a really good team, so we've got to clean that up, obviously."

Then, the Phillies flipped a switch to get those runs back -- and then some.

“Every time I go to pitch, I just try to keep the game close so we have a chance to win,” Suárez said. “We know the team that we have; we know the offense we have. Any given time, we can score five or six runs in an inning.”

And the way Suárez is pitching, that figures to be more than enough.

“8-0 is pretty special, man,” Harper said.