Ranger Suarez scores four in Phillies debut in 2023

Ranger Suárez scores four in Phillies debut in 2023 – MLB.com

DENVER — Ranger Suárez isn’t just a talent on the hill, he’s also a huge figure in the Phillies clubhouse.

The Phils are thrilled to have both of them back.

“Just having him in the locker room and being able to contribute every five days feels a lot better for him mentally,” Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs said after Saturday night’s 7-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. “In terms of the win, we were at .500 in mid-May without Rangers on our starting rotation. I think we’re in a pretty good position now. Watching him pitch tonight just shows what we can do going forward.”

Suárez made his 2023 debut on Saturday after spending two months recovering from a left elbow strain. He allowed seven hits and three runs in four innings as the Phillies won their fifth straight game and advanced to 20-19.

It was his first major league appearance since Game 3 of the 2022 World Series, as he threw five innings scoreless against the Astros.

“I felt good,” Suárez said through the team’s interpreter. “It didn’t really feel like six months had passed. The most important thing for me is that I feel healthy.”

Of course, it’s not easy to pitch effectively after such a long hiatus. Making that comeback can be particularly difficult at Coors Field. Suárez threw more changeups and four-seam fastballs than sinkers on Saturday, which is usually the field he draws on the most.

It just happened that way, he said.

“Pitching at that altitude, your stuff isn’t going to do exactly what it normally does,” Stubbs said. “I thought it was great that he came out like that on the first day and presented himself like that.”

“I thought he threw the ball well,” said Bryce Harper. “Not Ranger-ish, but good to have him back.”

That’s good because it means the Phillies have cemented the top four in their rotation with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker and Suárez. Suárez made such a huge contribution in the 2022 postseason. With a 1.23 ERA and a save in five appearances (three starts), he took a 2-0 lead. He made the save in Game 5 of the NLCS as the Phillies returned to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

The Phillies commemorated that moment in a hallway outside their clubhouse with a floor-to-ceiling photo of Suárez and JT Realmuto celebrating the final. It’s one of five new acrylic photos celebrating some of the greatest moments in franchise history.

The Suárez/Realmuto photo is the only one in color. The others are black and white, emphasizing recent success: The Whiz Kids celebrate the 1950 NL pennant, Tug McGraw raises his arms after beating Willie Wilson and winning the 1980 World Series, and Mitch Williams jumps on Darren Daulton, after winning the NL pennant in 1993, and Carlos Ruiz racing towards Brad Lidge after winning the 2008 World Series.

A banner above the photos reads, “Make More History.”

Suárez wants to be a part of another run. It will of course require a team effort. The Phillies hit four runs in the first inning on Saturday when Rockies right-hander Ryan Feltner ran four batters and allowed two singles. Feltner left the game in the second half when Nick Castellanos chipped a line drive off his head. He is reportedly doing well, although being treated and monitored at a local hospital.

It was Harper’s second home run of the season, and a particularly satisfying one. Several young Rockies fans were on Harper’s ear as he stood in a circle on the deck in the ninth inning, although it could have been happening all game. One fan said he told Harper he bet he’d be eliminated in the ninth game, but it’s hard to believe that’s exactly what it was.

Harper had a few things to say to these fans as he crossed home plate.

“It’s always fun,” Harper said. “You can leave it at that.”