Rhys Hoskins was visiting a doctor Thursday morning to get a better idea of his strained groin while the Phillies posted a lineup for the series finale with the Dodgers that did not include J.T. Realmuto. The catcher, the team said, did not have a concussion but would not start as a precaution.
The momentum the team rode to begin the week was already starting to fade, but this — two star players dealing with injuries — felt like another blow. Yet a few hours later, Ian Kennedy was finishing off a 2-1 win over the Dodgers, salvaging the final game of the three-game series.
Kennedy — and home-plate umpire Alfonso Márquez — kept it interesting in the ninth as the closer loaded the bases after Márquez said a pair of close pitches were balls instead of strike three. Phillies manager Joe Girardi was ejected after he objected to the second close pitch, which allowed Cody Bellinger to walk. Kennedy hit the next batter to load the bases with two outs before Billy McKinney popped out.
The Phillies did it without Hoskins, who they hope can return on Tuesday, and Realmuto, whom they expect to be back on Friday. It was a needed win as the Phillies remained in first place a day after Atlanta moved into a tie atop the National League East.
They were outclassed in the first two games of the series against the defending world champions, but the Phillies survived on Thursday. They’ll play the Reds this weekend before starting a six-game road trip on Monday in Arizona against the worst team in the majors. Now they can begin that stretch with some momentum.
Ranger Suárez continues to hold his own as a starter as he pitched into the fifth inning for his longest outing since returning to the rotation. This season, Suarez has been a long reliever, setup man, closer, and now starting pitcher yet still has a 1.07 ERA as he handles each role with poise.
The Phillies stretched Suarez to 82 pitches, a sign that he could perhaps push even closer to 100 pitches in his next outing. He allowed three hits in 4⅓ innings and his lone run allowed was brought in after he was lifted.
Suárez got the Phillies to the fifth inning but still left 14 outs for a bullpen that worked overtime the previous two nights. That burden fell largely to Archie Bradley, who retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. Bradley’s fastball sat at 94 mph and he has not allowed an earned run in his last seven appearances.
The Phillies are going to need dependability down the stretch from their bullpen, and Bradley seems to be emerging at the right time.
Bryce Harper’s 21st homer of the season was also his 19th solo homer of the season. But don’t judge Harper’s MVP case by his RBIs (45) but instead look at his OPS, which increased to .981 and is the highest among non-injured National League players. Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the NL with a 1.019 OPS and Ronald Acuna Jr. is second at .990. Acuna is out for the season while Tatis is nearing a return for San Diego.