PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 21: Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres in game three of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 21, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Going into tonight’s game, it felt like that as good as Ranger Suarez has been this year, the Padres had the pitching advantage with Joe Musgrove on the mound. But Suarez found a way to outduel the Padres’ rightie. He pitched 5 innings, and give up just 2 runs, 1 unearned. And to be fair, the one earned run was not his fault either. He was pulled earlier than many fans would have liked, but he still did his job. He left the game with the lead and went down as the winning pitcher in a 4-2 Phillies victory.

It was not always easy. The game was full of undefendable mistakes by the Phillies in the field. First Jean Segura couldn’t handle the throw on what should have been an inning-ending double play. And that lead to the Padres tieing the game up. But to his credit, Segura made up for it in the very next inning. He laced a 2-run single to center to put the Phillies back in front. Granted he got picked off first immediately after. But he had given the Phillies the lead back.

Next, it was Rhys Hoskins’ chance to mess up an easy play. On what should have been a routine ground ball out, he booted it, letting Trent Grisham get to 2nd.  He eventually came around to score despite Suarez giving up nothing but ground balls. And Hoskins, unfortunately, did not make up for his poor play in the field, with 3 strikeouts and a walk at the plate.

It was the story of Ranger Suarez’s night. He should have gone 5 inning scoreless. Maybe more. All he did all night was produce weak ground balls. But between the errors, and the balls finding the gaps in the defense, he had to work harder than he should have. But just like he did in Game 1 vs the Braves, he battled. None of the errors or the weak singles phased him. He just moved on to get the next out. It could have gone so much worse. The hits could have started to stack up like they did in game 2. But he not only kept the Phillies in it, he protected the lead before handing it off to the bullpen.

As for the bats, they got to a guy who had been having a better postseason than almost anyone. It was Musgrove who shut down the Mets to win Game 3. And it was Musgrove who finished off the Dodgers. But it was the Phillies who got to him. They didn’t put up massive numbers on him. But they put up 4 earned runs on him in 5.2 innings. It ended a stretch of 6 straight games with 2 or fewer earned runs for him. The game started with a Kyle Schwarber bomb to lead off the game. It continued with Jean’s single to score Stott and Bohm, and then Alec Bohm added the 4th with a double to score Nick Castellanos. The 4 runs were plenty to get the win.

And now the Phillies need just two more wins to move on to the World Series. They still get to throw out Zack Wheeler on Sunday, and then Aaron Nola on Monday. And although Nola struggled mightily in game 2, you will take your chances with those two on the mound. It will be a bullpen game for both teams tomorrow. The Phillies did have to burn through the best parts of their bullpen tonight though. But if they pull that out, Wheeler can go for the win on Sunday.

If they need a game 7, it would be Ranger Suarez on the mound again. And if he pitches half as well as he did tonight, the Phillies have to feel pretty damn good about that. Because Ranger battles better than anyone. You saw that tonight. And you saw that in game 1 in the NLDS. As much love goes to Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the playoffs so far, the Phillies would not be here without Ranger Suarez.