Phillies look to make playoff push vs. Rockies

Field Level Media

September 09, 2021 at 11:01 am.

The Philadelphia Phillies completed their nine-game trip with a 5-4 record, but it ended with consecutive losses to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Following a 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, the Phillies remain 2 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.

The Phillies (71-68) will look to snap their skid when they open a key four-game home series against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

“We had a winning road trip,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We have a bunch of games coming up at home. We’ve got to take advantage of that.”

The Phillies will turn to left-hander Ranger Suarez (6-4, 1.38 ERA) in the opening game. Suarez has faced the Rockies once in his career, giving up one unearned run and three hits in three innings in a 2018 game.

In Suarez’s start last Saturday against the Miami Marlins, he was effective, giving up two hits in five scoreless innings. Suarez surprisingly was lifted by Girardi, who pointed to triceps tightness as the reason.

“You’ve got to understand, his workload has increased dramatically,” Girardi said. “We just have to be a little bit careful. He had a little tricep issue. It did not act up (Saturday), but I can’t take a chance.”

Suarez, a converted closer, had thrown 99 and 95 pitches in the two previous starts.

“Maybe those two outings had something to do with it, I don’t know,” Suarez said of his ailment. “For sure, that’s something that I take into account is that I hadn’t started a game in two years.”

While the Phillies continue to be careful, they need wins to try to catch the Braves or possibly grab the second wild card. They haven’t reached the postseason since 2011.

The Rockies will hope to avoid their fifth consecutive loss when they visit the Phillies.

After falling to the Braves last Sunday, the Rockies were swept by the San Francisco Giants. The Rockies (63-77) were outscored 29-12 and lost 7-4 in the finale Wednesday.

“We’ve gotta do a better job,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Early in the game the last few days, it hasn’t happened.”

The Rockies will send right-hander Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.16) to the mound in the opener. Senzatela is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in five career games against the Phillies.

Senzatela turned in back-to-back strong outings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Braves in his past two starts, going seven innings each time. He allowed eight hits and three runs in the two starts.

Starting the season with an ERA of 5.76 in April, he posted a 2.93 mark in August.

“I just feel like I’m better in so many ways,” Senzatela said. “With my pitches and with my confidence.”

“I thought he pitched — really good use of the fastball to both sides of the plate,” Black said. “The slider keeps getting better and better; mixed in a couple of curveballs to give them a slower look.”