Phillies relieved Suárez avoided anything serious with left hand injury – NBC Sports Philadelphia

For parched scouts, skin tanned and leathery from too many hours in the merciless sun, it’s a boilerplate warning, delivered almost by rote after thousands of recitations.

“If we stay healthy. . .” Then they mentally tap their fingers on wood.

Not just scouts either. It’s both the hope and worry of every baseball player employed by every contender, one of the few topics with which the old school and the new are completely in agreement.

So when left-hander Ranger Suárez – by all accounts the Phillies’ best starting pitcher through the first two months of the season and arguably in all of baseball – had to end his start against the Cardinals on Saturday night after a line from the start. St. Louis outfielder Alec Burleson hit him on the base of his right thumb, having the best record in baseball suddenly seemed a little more tenuous.

Suárez, who entered the night 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA, retired the first five batters he faced before Burleson hit him with a 106.1 mph shot . The 28-year-old dropped the ball and threw out the runner at first, but he made a visible face as he left the field.

“You try to make sure he’s good and then you win a game,” first baseman Bryce Harper said when asked about the mood in the dugout after Suárez was taken for assessment. “That’s about it. You can’t really think about it too much. Ranger is our horse. He’s our guy. But you still have to understand that winning a game and winning a series was huge for us.

The Phillies won 6-1 and won the series in large part because the bullpen once again gained momentum.

But the big story. . .

X-rays of Suárez’s hand were negative. He risks missing a round, but the medical staff does not anticipate that he will be out much longer. The smile on Rob Thomson’s face as he entered the post-match interview room told the story as well as his words.

“We have to wait a few days to get the swelling out and see if he can grip a baseball and see if he can make his next start,” the manager said. “I feel pretty lucky right now. Without a doubt. If he can’t make his next start, that’s no problem either. So we’re going to find a solution and make sure it doesn’t turn into something else.

Suárez was playful, almost giddy after the match. There is an island in the middle of the clubhouse where players traditionally conduct their post-game interviews. Instead of walking to his seat, he slipped under the counter. When asked to show reporters how swollen his wrist was, he hid it under his T-shirt.

“It was a hard line, but as soon as the ball hit me I knew everything was going to be OK,” he said through interpreter Diego D’Aniello. “But as soon as the ball hit me, I knew I wasn’t going to continue. Why force? The season has only just begun, so there was no reason to try to finish it.

“Obviously I feel lucky, with the speed of the line, if it catches another part of my body or a bone, it’s sure to be broken. But luckily it hit all the muscles.

Right-hander José Ruiz came out to pitch the third, giving former starter Spencer Turnbull a chance to go through his normal warm-up routine. He then took over in fourth. Ultimately, five relievers filled the final seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits and no walks while striking out 11.

Even with lingering concern over Suárez, the 44,648 spectators at Citizens Bank Park had reason to celebrate. They have now won two in a row against a resurgent Cardinals team that had won five straight series, but will now have to try to salvage a victory in Sunday night’s finale.

The Phillies have already overcome some adversity this season. They have been without shortstop Trea Turner (strained hamstring) for a month and he was hitting .343 when he was placed on the injured list. Yet they barely missed a beat, largely because Edmundo Sosa is playing some of the best baseball of his big league career.

If Suárez has to miss a start, Thomson has all but announced that Turnbull will step in. He opened the season in the rotation while Taijuan Walker (shoulder) was sidelined. In six starts, he went 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA.

He dominated Saturday night, striking out six in three innings. The only baserunner he allowed to reach on an error. The problem would be how long it would take for him to fully stretch to the point where he could go deep into games.

“He really lifted us up,” Thomson said. “Three innings, fifty pitches. I wasn’t really comfortable sending him back because he hadn’t really been involved in that many pitches in almost three weeks. But if he’s going to make Ranger’s next start, I’m comfortable with him over 80 pitches.

It also helps that the Phillies are under no pressure to make an immediate decision. With Thursday and Friday free to allow for travel to London and another open date Monday after playing two games against the Mets at London Stadium, they could get by without filling that spot until June 13 when they face the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

They also have depth in their rotation – Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Cristopher Sanchez – that most teams would envy, as well as the ability to outplay their opponent on any given night.

Harper smashed her 14th birthdayth home run into the second deck in the seventh, a two-run shot that added an exclamation point to the proceedings.

And because the Braves lost, the Phils increased their lead in the National League East to 7.5 games.

The Phillies remain on track to realize their unofficial World Series motto Or Bust. Provided, of course, that they remain healthy.

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