Ranger Suárez entered having given up more than one run in only two of nine starts. The Orioles tagged him for two runs in the first inning on four singles. They seemed to be sitting on his signature sinker, and he didn’t locate with his usual precision.
But Suárez shut off the spigot after that and got through the sixth inning in a career-high 102 pitches.
Suárez’s biggest pitches came in the second inning. With two on and one out, he fell behind 3-0 to slugging Ryan Mountcastle but got him to foul off three pitches in a row. Suárez uncorked a full-count sinker and rolled a double play to hold the margin at 2-0.
It isn’t hyperbolic to say Suárez is having a historic season. Since 1893, when the mound distance was established at 60 feet, 6 inches, he’s the fourth Phillies starter to allow three runs or fewer in each of his first 10 starts of a season, joining Zack Wheeler (2020), Curt Schilling (1998), and Tommy Greene (1993).
Vierling gains trust
Raise your hand if you had Matt Vierling starting -- at first base, no less -- in a pivotal late-season game. But there he was, making his third start in four games and batting in the heart of the order and delivering one of the Phillies’ four hits against Means.
“He’s done a very good job against left-handers,” Girardi said. “He had a start against a right-hander the other night and did a very good job. I love his athleticism. His ability to play first and all over the outfield has been big for us. I’m very pleased with what he’s done.”©2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Visit at inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.